Holy Grove Unveil Cover Art for Holy Grove II

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 25th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

holy grove ii full cover

I usually try to keep it reasonable as regards file sizes around here, mostly because I have a voice in my head that sounds a lot like Slevin (who built the site) berating me for not doing so, but every now and again you gotta just give a piece of art its due. Accordingly, click the image above to greatly enlarge the full two-sided cover for Holy Grove II, the impending second album and Ripple Music debut from Portland, Oregon’s Holy Grove. The art, of course, is by Adam Burke.

The striking artwork was a factor as well on Holy Grove‘s 2016 self-titled debut (review here), released by Heavy Psych Sounds, and like producer Billy Anderson, Adam Burke is a returning party in adding his visuals alongside Holy Grove‘s tracks. I haven’t heard the record yet — it’s a Nov. 9 release date, so we might be a while before we get there — but the band previously announced the tracklisting and offer some more comment about the record, and because one likes to be thorough, you’ll see the front-cover version of the art below, complete with a fancy Holy Grove logo that seems just about ready to become my new favorite t-shirt.

More on Holy Grove‘s Holy Grove II as I hear it (and hopefully I hear it soon — ha.), but for now here’s what I’ve got:

holy grove ii

Holy Grove on Holy Grove II:

For us this record represents a rebirth of sorts…we went through a trying few years where the future of the band was in doubt and making another record seemed like it may never happen. We continued on, believing that we had more to accomplish. This record is a result of that belief, as well as a lot of hard work. We’re all very proud of it, and are looking forward to sharing it.

Holy Grove II tracklisting:
Blade Born
Aurora
Valley of The Mystics
Solaris
Cosmos

Holy Grove is:
Andrea Vidal – Vocals
Trent Jacobs – Guitar
Gregg Emley – Bass
Eben Travis – Drums

https://www.facebook.com/holygroveband/
https://twitter.com/holygroveband
http://holygrove.bandcamp.com/
http://www.ripple-music.com
https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com
https://www.facebook.com/theripplemusic/

Holy Grove, Live at the Tonic Lounge, Portland, OR 03.26.18

Holy Grove, Holy Grove (2016)

Tags: , , , , ,

The Necromancers Stream “Secular Lord”; Of Blood and Wine out Oct. 5; Tour Dates Announced

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 19th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

the necromancers

Multi-pronged update from busy French four-piece The Necromancers. They’ll follow-up their 2017 Ripple Music debut, Servants of the Salem Girl (review here), and the copious touring they did thereby, with Of Blood and Wine, from which a new single is streaming now. The album is out Oct. 5 and the band will begin their next road stint with a release show in their hometown of Poitiers, France, from where they’re set to head out to Germany, Poland, Croatia and beyond to mark the record’s arrival. The tour, naturally, is presented by Sound of Liberation.

You can hear the cult rock elements still present in “Secular Lord” — the new single streaming at the bottom of this post — but The Necromancers sound more confident overall. Listen to how they give the lead guitar room to work in the second half of the track and how easily the crash behind the winding, stomping apex seems to flow with the soaring solo overtop before they turn back to the last verse. These guys had some potential in the debut, and I haven’t heard the whole record yet, but it’s possible they’re starting to bring it to fruition on Of Blood and Wine. We’ll see in less than a month, I guess.

From the PR wire:

the necromancers of blood and wine

French heavy psych quartet THE NECROMANCERS return with new album + European tour dates | Stream and share new single ‘Secular Lord’ now!

Drawing on antiquated inspirations in mythology, religion, fantastical tales from European literature and an obsession for classic horror cinema, The Necromancers are a curious alliance of musicians, and together are a strange beast to behold.

Following on from the release of their debut album last year on Ripple Music, the French quartet return with the first taste of their eagerly awaited follow up, Of Blood and Wine, with ‘Secular Lord’; a song about which explores the legend of Vlad ‘The Empalor’ Tepes. Experimenting with progressive rock, heavy psych and the 70s pagan/proto-metal of bands like Black Sabbath and Coven, they take these influences, throw in the urgency of NWOBHM and douse the entire lot in lysergic illusions. All with a mind to create an album a sound for ages.

After a very successful tour last winter with Swiss psych rock legends Monkey 3, The Necromancers take to the road for a European tour with Belzebong, kicking off with an album release show at Le Cluricaume in their hometown of Poitiers. (For the full list of dates see below.)

“The band is still young,” explains vocalist and guitar player Tom Cornie?re. “We never would have thought of signing with a label like Ripple. We could hardly have hoped for better. It’s an honour and a surprise. Now, we are looking forward to the tour and to be able to share our album wherever we can.”

Of Blood and Wine by The Necromancers is released on 5th October 2018 on Ripple Music.

TRACK LISTING:
1. Join The Dead Ones
2. Erzebeth
3. Of Blood And Wine
4. Secular Lord
5. Lust
6. The Gathering

TOUR DATES:
24.10.2018 – Poitiers – Le Cluricaume (Release Show), FR
26.10.2018 – Montpellier – Le Black Sheep, FR
27.10.2018 – Lyon – Le Grand Incendie #3, FR
28.10.2018 – Altkirch – Le Domaine, FR
08.11.2018 – Dresden – Beatpol, D
10.11.2018 – Krakow – Soulstone Gathering, PL
12.11.2018 – Budapest – Dürer Kert, HUN
13.11.2018 – Zagreb – Vintage Industrial Bar, CRO
14.11.2018 – Ljubljana – Koncertna Dvorana Rog, SI
15.11.2018 – Innsbruck – Heavy Psych Sounds Fest, A
16.11.2018 – Leipzig – Werk 2, D
17.11.2018 – Strasbourg – La Laiterie, FR
18.11.2018 – Paris – La Maroquinerie, FR
19.11.2018 – Rennes – Le Mondo Bizarro, FR
20.11.2018 – Bordeaux – Make It Sabbathy 50th, FR
21.11.2018 – Barcelona – Rocksound, SP
22.11.2018 – Toulouse – Les Pavillons Sauvages, FR
24.11.2018 – Bologna – Freakout, IT
25.11.2018 – Milano – VVitch Festival, IT
26.11.2018 – Munich – Feierwerk, D
27.11.2018 – Utrecht – DB’s, NL
28.11.2018 – Brussels – Magasin 4, B
29.11.2018 – Cologne – Helios 37, D
30.11.2018 – Berlin – Zukunft Am Ostkreuz, D
01.12.2018 – Osnabrück – Westwerk, D
02.12.2018 – Freiburg – Slow Club, D

THE NECROMANCERS:
Tom Cornière – Vocals, Guitar
Robin Genais – Lead Guitar
Simon Evariste – Bass Guitar
Benjamin Rousseau – Drums

https://www.facebook.com/thenecromancersband/
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Ripple-Music/369610860064
https://twitter.com/RippleMusic
https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/
http://www.ripple-music.com/

The Necromancers, “Secular Lord”

The Necromancers, Servants of the Salem Girl (2017)

Tags: , , , , ,

The Hazytones Set Oct. 5 Release for II: Monarchs of Oblivion

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 11th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

the hazytones

Aptly-named Montreal heavy psych rocking trio The Hazytones returned at the end of last month from a summer tour that took them on basically a loop through the Midwest to play the Stoned Meadow of Doom fest in Omaha, Nebraska, before swinging east and running up north to finish back in their hometown. They were on the road as well earlier this year supporting their 2016 self-titled debut, and last year they toured Canada too, so they’ve been out a more than fair amount. One has to wonder if that will play into the sound of their upcoming second album, II: Monarchs of Oblivion, which is set to release through Ripple Music on Oct. 5. Ripple also reissued the debut in conjunction with Oak Island Records, though I don’t think the latter is involved in the new one. I could be wrong but that’s the impression I get.

Either way, a record to look forward to as 2018 begins to make its way toward its finish, getting dark early, being autumn and all that. This’ll be one to keep things warm.

From the PR wire:

the hazytones ii monarchs of oblivion

The Hazytones to Release New LP, ‘Monarchs of Oblivion’, October 5

Montreal Psych-Metal Band Digs Deep to Deliver Graven, Gripping New Album

Canadian garage doom band The Hazytones will release their new LP, Monarchs of Oblivion, on October 5 via Ripple Music. The Montreal-based group, whose haunting, hooky sound has been called “Swedish-style stomp”, delivers dark psych-metal, overflowing with stark mood and tempo changes, and haunting, double-tracked vocals that glide over the sinister songs. Monarchs of Oblivion is the follow-up to The Hazytones’ 2017 self-titled debut, hailed as “totally new yet oddly recognizable.”

Formed in 2015, The Hazytones’ shadowy sound is the epitome of a “hazy tone”. The band’s black acid-drenched shock rock drips with harmonies that harken back to the trippiest of late 60’s psych and its chained-to-the brain hooks bleed with a palpable, eerie energy that surges and swings in equal measure. Live is where the band really finds its swagger, flinging themselves around the stage and converting new disciples with each and every performance. With full European and North American tours already under their belts, The Hazytones are a developing band on the rise, set to deliver a sweeping salvo with the release of their substantial sophomore LP.

Track listing:
1.) Empty Space
2.) Hell
3.) The Great Illusion
4.) Spit You Out
5.) Monarchs of Oblivion (part 1)
6.) Monarchs of Oblivion (part 2)
7.) The Beast
8.) The Hand that Feeds

The Hazytones are:
Mick Martel – guitar/vocals
Adam Gilbert – bass/backing vocals
Antoine St-Germain – drums

https://www.facebook.com/TheHazytones/
http://www.twitter.com/TheHazytones/
https://www.instagram.com/thehazytones/
https://thehazytones.bandcamp.com/releases
https://www.facebook.com/theripplemusic/
ripplemusic.bandcamp.com

The Hazytones, The Hazytones (2016)

Tags: , , , , , ,

Cortez and Wasted Theory Join Forces for The Second Coming of Heavy: Chapter IX

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 10th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

It is really, really hard to put together a split release. Getting one band to have their shit together enough to hit the studio and record is hard enough. But two? Or more? It is not an enviable task in the slightest. Sometimes acts have songs leftover from other sessions, and even that is hard to work with. It’s to Ripple Music‘s eternal credit that the label’s The Second Coming of Heavy series has not only made it this far without missing a beat between its chapters, but that it will finish its 10LP run having highlighted killer heavy rock and roll from the US and Europe in defiance of logistics and with a firm commitment to quality in presentation and curation alike. I know that sounds like I’m blowing smoke up the label’s ass. I’m not. If you’ve never coordinated this kind of thing, it’s fucking impossible. Every time it happens, it’s a miracle. And from what I understand, when The Second Coming of Heavy ends, that’s still just the beginning. More power to them.

Chapter IX gets down to the series’ roots with top grade heavy rock from Boston’s long-underrated practitioners Cortez and the pride of Bear, Delaware, Wasted Theory, who will follow their appearance here up with a new full-length in October. Both bands have tracks streaming at the bottom of this post.

The PR wire brings preliminaries:

the second coming of heavy chapter ix

Ripple Music announce the penultimate instalment in their Second Coming of Heavy Series | Split album from Cortez and Wasted Theory

The Second Coming of Heavy; Chapter IX is released on vinyl on 21st September 2018

Pre-order now at www.ripple-music.com

Already recognised as one of the world’s leading purveyors of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Stoner, Doom and Heavy Psych, Ripple Music upped the ante in 2015 with the arrival of one of their most ambitious projects to date, The Second Coming of Heavy Series.

Serving as a showcase for some of the best and heaviest bands emerging from the underground, each instalment shines a light on those worthy of your attention. Consisting of one, 12” slab of multi-coloured vinyl with full colour sleeves and inserts, the series is designed to be saved and treasured, much like a fine anthology of books. When the albums are filed next to each other, the complete collection of aligned spines form a mind-blowing image direct from the underground.

Bands that have already featured in the series include Geezer, Borracho, Supervoid, Red Desert, Kingnomad, Bonehawk, Red Mesa, Blue Sanggletooth, Fuzz Evil, Switchblade Jesus plus a whole host of others. For this latest instalment it’s the turn of Boston-based, fuzzed out rock and rollers Cortez and American Weed Rock supremos, Wasted Theory.

The Second Coming Of Heavy; Chapter IX will get an official vinyl release on 21st September 2018 and is limited to 300 copies in three alternative versions (100 of each) – The Resurrection Edition, The Risen OBI and The Ascension Edition.

https://www.facebook.com/cortezboston
https://www.instagram.com/cortezboston/
https://twitter.com/cortezboston
https://cortezboston.bandcamp.com/
http://www.cortezboston.com/
https://www.facebook.com/wastedtheoryband/
https://twitter.com/WastedTheory
https://wastedtheory.bandcamp.com/

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Review & Track Premiere: Plainride, Life on Ares

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on August 22nd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

plainride life on ares

[Click play above to listen to ‘El Coyote’ from Plainride’s Life on Ares. Album is out Sept. 21 on Ripple Music.]

One doesn’t want to generalize — exceptions to rules and whatnot — but basically, if you’ve got a record with a song called “Battletoads” on it, that’s probably something I want to hear. The 8-bit NES reference is but one manifestation of German heavy rockers Plainride‘s affinity for ’90s-era vibing. Their second album, Life on Ares, arrives some three years after their debut, Return of the Jackalope (review here), the Cologne four-piece effectively press (and hold) the reset button on their approach to recording, keeping a more studio-minded feel rather than tracking live and so on. That can be heard in the massive roll that ensues in “El Coyote” after the intro “A Fiery Demise (Prologue)” and the turn to jazzy jabs that follows from there. On every level, the 10-track/43-minute Life on Ares is a more detailed, more nuanced outing, and as it will no doubt be many listeners’ first time hearing the band as it’s also their debut on Ripple Music (which also reissued Return of the Jackalope last year), the first impression it makes is one of hard-hitting pro-sounding heavy rock and roll.

The deep-toned fuzz and gruff vocals of Max Rebel are out in front of songs like the aforementioned “Battletoads” and the penultimate “Thunder and Awe” in such a fashion as to remind of Ripple veterans Gozu and all the more so with the rhythmic propulsion in Rebel and Fabe “van Fuzz” Klein‘s riffing, the bass of Leo “Lionhatch” Beringer and new drummer Flo “The Brave” Schlenker, while the mellow and bluesy “Blood on the Crown” recalls quiet Clutch moments like “The Regulator” with its soft guitar shimmer and washes of cymbal. Context goes a long way, though, in seeing Plainride begin to distinguish themselves from their influences — the once-unbridled raucousness of Truckfighters is a factor as well, as it was their last time out — and Plainride set themselves apart via barnburners like “Seven of Spades” with a gallop à la a catchier High on Fire if not Motörhead directly, and the apparent side B opener “Wormhole Society,” with its howling solo in the second half.

Life on Ares has two songs that top seven minutes, “El Coyote” (7:05) and “Bite Back” (7:04), and both feature on side A. Along with the introduction titled “A Fiery Demise” and the quick-running “Seven of Spades” and “Battletoads” also included, the five-song first half of the album develops a varied personality that becomes crucial to its effectiveness overall. Their seeming ability to change it up is evident through the shift from one song to the next, and in the case of “El Coyote” and “Bite Back” specifically, from one part to the next, but as “Bite Back” shows perhaps most of all, Plainride are dutiful and mindful of keeping a flow to the progression of their material. Neither track sounds artificially extended in a let’s-write-a-long-song kind of way. That may well have been the intent, but even if so, the resulting feel is no less natural than anything else they conjure throughout.

plainride

And the placement of “Battletoads” between the longer pieces is important in acting as a preview for side B’s dug-in feel, some more straightforward rockers, but still high-energy and well composed. As they move from one song to the next, Plainride seem to shoulder-check the listener off-balance, but never actually hard enough to knock them down, i.e., take them out of the overarching fluidity of one song into the next. It’s a bumpy ride, but it’s supposed to be a bumpy ride, and the band’s pursuit of riffly glories leads them to exciting and upbeat crafting and deft turns like those in “Bite Back” as it moves to its wah-laced apex solo in its final minute, scorching its way to a cold finish ahead of the start of “Wormhole Society” and the album’s remaining back end, which one might be tempted to see as where the foursome really get down to business if they hadn’t already worked so hard to establish so much in terms of sound, impact, professionalism and character, not to mention theme or imagery, yet another layer of detail to be found is right in the name of the record, which is subtitled Life on Ares: Thrilling Tales from a Strange Planet.

I’ll give you “thrilling” fair enough. The second part — the bit about “strange planet” — may or may not be accurate. That is, I’m not sure if Ares even has a Texas that would suit “Texas Labyrinth,” the tense verses of which open to a winding melodic hook. It’s possible Ares — named for the Greek god of war; the Roman equivalent is Mars — is intended to be an alternate name for Earth, which most definitely does have a Texas, and that the Strange Planet in question is in fact this one. The alternate-earth theory holds water,  but it’s still somewhat unclear. It matters less as “Texas Labyrinth” drops to quiet guitar resonance and a transitional drone to the start of “Blood on the Crown,” which begins with spacious plucked notes before unfolding a build that remains understated and blues-based, but is weighted in its groove just the same, lead guitar and keys showing up later on in order to push it over the top. It works, is the bottom line. They roll on toward and through “Thunder and Awe” toward the comfortably-paced closer “Anaximander (And the Riddle of Origin),” Rebel holding out a gravely shout just past the 90-second mark while the band rises to meet him en route to a midsection setting up the instrumental finish, an effects-soaked lead giving way to a surprising touch of psychedelia before the thrust resumes to end out.

They’re obviously having a good time, and the songs show diligent efforts to convey that, but Plainride are also just as obviously interested in developing their style. There’s nary a cryptozoological aspect to be found on Life on Ares, and while it would’ve been entirely possible for them to bring back the jackalope that seemed so destined to become their mascot, the decision not to feels very much like a conscious choice. So be it. Three years ago, they were a different band — in the case of who’s drumming, literally so — and instead of focusing on the past, they’re very clearly looking ahead to what this lineup can accomplish, and they see to it their listener does the same. There was potential in the debut, and there’s potential writ large throughout Life on Ares as well, and Plainride seem to be gearing up to realize that with energy and volume levels high.

Plainride on Instagram

Plainride on Thee Facebooks

Plainride on Spotify

Plainride on Bandcamp

Plainride website

Ripple Music on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music on Twitter

Ripple Music on Bandcamp
\
Ripple Music website

Tags: , , , , ,

Castle Stream “Wait for Dark” Lyric Video; More Touring Announced

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 15th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

castle

I’d like to sit here and pretend and say, ‘Oh, well, I haven’t heard the new Castle or anything, but…’ and then start talking about the album which I’ve very much heard, but the truth is, I haven’t heard it. The moved-to-the-desert outfit in preparation for making what’s been dubbed Deal Thy Fate and will serve as their Ripple Music debut upon its Oct. 19 release, and whether or that that will affect the ultimate sound of the thing remains to be seen, even with the lyric video playing below for the track “Wait for Dark.”One never knows where they might go with a full collection of songs.

As it happens, where they’re going is Europe. Castle have already been confirmed for Desertfest Belgium 2018 and, as one might expect for a band who are basically nomadic, that’s just one of many shows they’re playing.

Album info and more comes courtesy of the PR wire:

castle deal thy fate

Castle Debuts New Song “Wait for Dark”; Cover Art and Track Listing for New LP, ‘Deal Thy Fate’ Unveiled

Bay Area Doom Rock Duo to Drop Fifth Full-length LP this Fall; Canadian and European Tour Dates Announced

Heavy metal doomsters CASTLE have announced the release of their new album, ‘Deal Thy Fate’, via Ripple Music on October 19. Recorded at Hallowed Halls Studio in Portland, OR by longtime producer Billy Anderson (Sleep, Neurosis), ‘Deal Thy Fate’ is Castle’s fifth album and follows 2016’s critically-lauded Welcome To The Graveyard.

Building on the stripped-down sound of its predecessor, Deal Thy Fate sees Castle continue to push the envelope of classic heavy metal, crafting epic and memorable songs that hearken back to fuzzier times while keeping the pedal down on their own hard-edged, modern sound. Guitarist Mat Davis’ penchant for riffs that worm their way into your brain and singer/bassist Liz Blackwell’s haunted melodies soar out of the depths across the album’s 36 fist-banging minutes.

Written over the last year in the band’s current Mojave Desert location of Joshua Tree, CA, Deal Thy Fate’s 9 tracks are woven with tales of folklore, dark Americana, serial killers and cult leaders, while the album’s striking cover art, inked by Patrick Zoller, reflects the title track’s no compromise, choose-your-own destiny rally cry. The striking album art and full track listing can both be viewed below.

Commenting on the writing and recording of Deal Thy Fate, which was rounded out on drums by previous touring member Chase Manhattan, Blackwell adds, “We were able to spend a couple months in a jam room honing these songs and for the first time, record the entire album live in the studio – it definitely shows in its energy and intensity and sounds more like live CASTLE than anything else we’ve ever done.”

Track listing:
1.) Can’t Escape the Evil
2.) Skull in the Woods
3.) Prelude
4.) Hexenring
5.) Wait For Dark
6.) Deal Thy Fate
7.) Haunted
8.) Red Phantom
9.) Firewind

Castle tour dates:

September 27 Toronto, ON Coalition
September 28 Ottawa, ON House Of Targ
September 29 Moncton, NB The Caveau
September 30 Halifax, NS Gus’ Pub
October 1 Fredericton, NB Capital Complex
October 2 Quebec City, PQ Le Bateau de Nuit
October 3 MontreaL, PQ L’Escogriffe
October 4 London, ON Call The Office
October 14 Antwerp, BE Desertfest Belgium (w/ Enslaved, YOB, Crowbar)
October 15 Frankfurt, DE dasBett (w/ The Skull)
October 16 Munich, DE Backstage (w/ The Skull)
October 17 Freiburg, DE Slow Club (w/ The Skull)
October 18 Cologne, DE Sonic Ballroom (w/ The Skull)
October 19 Siggiewi, MT Malta Doom Fest
October 20 Cottbus, DE Blue Moon Fest
October 22 Gottingen, DE Freihafen
October 24 Dresden, DE Chemiefabrik
October 25 Osnabruck, DE Bastard Club
October 27 Vallet, FR Westhill Music Fest
November 2 Karlsruhe, DE KoHi
November 3 Siegen, DE Vortex
November 4 Hamburg, DE Bambi Galore
November 7 Furstenwalde, DE Parkclub
November 8 Berlin, DE Tief
November 9 Leipzig, DE Black Label
November 10 Vienna, AT Doom Over Vienna Fest
November 24 Rotterdam, NL Dutch Doom Days

heavycastle.com
facebook.com/CastleSF
https://heavycastle.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/theripplemusic/
https://twitter.com/RippleMusic
https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/
http://www.ripple-music.com/

Castle, “Wait for Dark” official lyric video</h3

Tags: , , , , ,

Ape Machine: New Album Darker Seas Available to Preorder

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 14th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

ape machine

Underrated road-dogger rockers Ape Machine have a new record coming out Sept. 7 called Darker Seas, and as one might guess, it’s working through some tough times on the part of the band. Ups and downs, at the very least. That’s all detailed below, but when perusing the PR wire info below, consider as well the part that notes the upcoming as the band’s fifth long-player and not only that it was recorded with Poison Idea‘s Steve Hanford, who’s also joined the band, but that it has some elements of sonic progression as well, a bit more of a mind perhaps on arrangement beyond the straightforward riffy fare — nothing wrong with it, particularly given the level of their songcraft — that Ape Machine have thus far proffered. One has to wonder if they’ll keep up their tour-heavy ways supporting this new release, but we’ll find that out eventually I’m sure. Meanwhile, we’re already less than a month out from the album landing, so you know, time’s a crunch.

Here’s info from the PR wire:

ape machine darker seas

Ape Machine to Release New LP, ‘Darker Seas’, September 7

Portland, OR power rock band, Ape Machine, will release its new LP, Darker Seas, on September 7 via Ripple Music. The group’s fifth and latest album was recorded with punk legend Steve Hanford, producer and former Poison Idea drummer, who has since joined Ape Machine on drums. Darker Seas is described by the band as “heavier and more progressive than previous records but also more structured and cinematic.”

Along with fellow Portland, OR-based heavyweights Red Fang and Danava, the high-powered quartet Ape Machine has been making its modern take on vintage hard rock for the better part of the past decade. Formed by singer Caleb Heinze and guitarist Ian Watts, the group self-released their first album, entitled This House Has Been Condemned, in 2010. The name APE MACHINE is a nod to the days of reel-to-reel magnetic tape audio recording; a fitting moniker as the band plays through vintage tube amplifiers and lays down its songs using exclusively throwback quality studio equipment.

The making of the new album, Darker Seas, saw the band experience death and rebirth in more ways than one. During the making of the record, Caleb and Ian lost a mother and father respectively, and Brian experienced the birth of his first child, a son. The band went nearly bankrupt from relentless touring and untimely vehicle failures, but ultimately developed an unshakable determination and resolve to deliver the message of the music. Musically, Darker Seas reflects the personal struggles of the band and its members but also the patience developed by living through it all.

“Sonically, ‘Darker Seas’ takes on new territory for the band with use of vocal harmonies, melodic guitar harmonies and even some Cello on “Nocturne in D Flat (The Jester),” says Watts. “The songs paint a picture of trial, hardship, pain and optimism all at the same time.”

Track listing:

1. Damned, Their Bones
2. Into The Shredder
3. Piper’s Rats
4. Watch What You Say
5. The Fall
6. Nocturne in D Flat (The Jester)
7. The Contract
8. All Hands Gathered To The Mast, We’re Going Down
9. Bend Your Knee
10. Push It Away
11. A Many Things

Ape Machine features Caleb Heinze (vocals), Ian Watts (guitar), Brian True (bass) and Steve Hanford (drums).

http://apemachine.com/
https://www.facebook.com/apemachinemusic
https://twitter.com/apemachine
www.ripple-music.com

Ape Machine, Live at the Tonic Lounge, May 28, 2018

Tags: , , , , ,

Kingnomad, The Great Nothing: Into the Outer

Posted in Reviews on August 14th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

kingnomad the great nothing

As to what might be Swedish progressive cult rockers Kingnomad‘s fascination with emptiness, I can’t say, but it’s worked out for them thus far into their relatively brief tenure. Ripple Music released their debut long-player, Mapping the Inner Void, and now issues the quick-turnaround follow-up in the form of The Great Nothing; six tracks recorded by vocalist/guitarist/organist Mr. Jay at The Crazy Heart Studio. It is a work of significant and multifaceted growth that may surprise those who heard the debut for only coming a year later — the band formed in 2014 — but still holds true to a classically naturalist ’70s sound while being modern in both production and atmosphere.

With the lineup of Mr. Jay, fellow guitarist Marcus, bassist/backing vocalist Maximilian and drummer Mano, Kingnomad make an obvious focal point of the 22-minute title-track, which closes out and comprises the entirety of side B, but even when it comes to the rest of what surrounds, from the introduction “The Yoga of Desolation” through “Cosmic Serpent,” “The Mysterious Agreement,” “All Those Things” and “Collapsing Pillars of the Earth,” the group patiently delivers proggy sounds and an engaging ambience without necessarily resorting to trickery to do it.

It is a nighttime album, to be sure, but there is nothing about it that feels like caricature. Kingnomad are sincere in their approach and clearly serious about the forward creative drive they demonstrate in these songs, following a narrative course through the early cuts and into the latter reaches of the title-cut, with its late acoustic strum and volume-swell of effects adding spaciousness and a psychedelic feel to a sweet post-payoff epilogue. That aspect of the band’s execution is pivotal and feels as willful as any of the individual arrangements, and from the harmonized intro “The Yoga of Desolation” onward into the sweep of guitar that starts the space-boogie of “Cosmic Serpent,” the four-piece make plain their intent to invite listeners along the course they’re taking, a winding but consuming path guided by sure hands all the while.

One doesn’t want to overstate it, but even in light of what they were able to bring to their first album, The Great Nothing is a significant achievement, and where that record was concerned with the ‘Inner,’ this collection seems to answer back by centering around an expanse of creative exploration in its songwriting. Elements like the short break to organ at the halfway point of “Cosmic Serpent,” or Mano‘s cyclical tom patterning in the third minute of “The Mysterious Agreement” — let alone anything the title-track brings to bear — demonstrate a nuanced take that only continues in the bed of bass under the guitar at the outset of “All Those Things” and the structure of “Collapsing Pillars of the Earth,” which abandons its opening progression only to embark on King Crimson-y starts and stops, turn that on its head with some early-Witchcraft-ed doom classicism, return to the start-stop, break into a stretch of quiet guitar on its own, work its way into a worthy boogie fleshed out as so much of the record is by the organ, and only then return back to the long-ago opening movement to close out.

kingnomad

This would be dizzying were it not so well done, and especially when taken in kind with the songs before it and in consideration of the smooth flow between them and how one leads into the next, all the more so. Making complex ideas sound organic seems to be a running theme throughout, but it’s also worth remembering the basic elements of songwriting at play. “Cosmic Serpent,” which its layers of vocal harmonies over tripped-out crashes, offers a memorable hook and taps cult rock aspects without giving itself entirely to the post-Uncle Acid garage doom aesthetic.

And likewise, “Collapsing Pillars of the Earth” seems to draw on the smoothly-done harmonies of Swedish countrymen Ghost without aping them at all. From the samples at the beginning of the proto-metal-chugging “The Mysterious Agreement” through the foreshadowing sense of purpose in the not-all-who-wander-are-lost midsection of “All Those Things,” The Great Nothing proves to be of marked character and noteworthy detail, unfolding new elements and aspects on subsequent listens one might have missed the first time around.

Likewise, parsing the title-track, which also begins with the aforementioned acoustic strum that closes, is something that requires several visits to that alleged void. And I say “alleged” because “The Great Nothing” is anything but empty. Sure it has its atmospheric stretches, but even these are filled with subtle keys, drums building in tension, and interplay between the two guitars that is as hypnotic as it is thoughtful. Whether loud or quiet at any given time, Kingnomad keep a mind on their ultimate direction and as they make their way into the psychedelic reaches as seven minutes becomes eight and the song seems to almost completely stop, there’s never any doubt that the band know what they’re doing and that none of it is happenstance.

They’ve earned that trust over the course of side A and they put it to use in side B, which picks up around 8:40 with a percussion-backed rumble that pushes into the next heavier section and verse, crossing the halfway point during a chorus that unfolds to bluesy versemaking before it nestles into a bluesy jam. A break after crossing the 14-minute mark returns to the chorus and thicker riffing takes hold to mark the beginning of the last march and payoff. “The Great Nothing” almost can’t help but summarize what Kingnomad do so successfully throughout the LP that shares its name — how could it not? it takes up more than half the runtime! — but particularly the decision to end in relatively subdued form speaks further to the purposefulness of how far they’ve come in so short a time.

It reinforces the suggestion that not only did Kingnomad know what they wanted to do with The Great Nothing, but with their aesthetic as a whole, and that they’ve been working toward those ends over the last four years. I doubt their development is over, but The Great Nothing does not seem to set a goal for itself it subsequently doesn’t achieve. It’s really something.

Kingnomad, The Great Nothing (2018)

Kingnomad on Thee Facebooks

Kingnomad on Twitter

Kingnomad on Bandcamp

Ripple Music website

Ripple Music on Bandcamp

Ripple Music on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music on Twitter

Tags: , , , ,