With the Dead, Love from With the Dead: Postcard from the Abyss

Posted in Reviews on September 15th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

with-the-dead-love-from-with-the-dead

If one thinks of the title of With the Dead‘s second LP, Love from With the Dead, in the context of early- and mid-’60s style singer-songwriter releases of collected singles put out by cynical buck-seeking record labels — something one might find at a garage sale from Patsy Cline or Nancy Sinatra — that would seem to be where the band is coming from. Trying to give that impression that the record you just bought is a personal letter to you, the listener, from whoever made it. Of course, the London-based filth doomers’ adoption of the trope is dripping with irony, and if there’s any question as to what the “love” that With the Dead are sending looks like, one needs only to examine the actual, physical decay depicted on the cover of the release, out, like their 2015 self-titled debut (review here), via frontman Lee Dorrian‘s Rise Above Records imprint.

Between that and lines like, “To love I surrendered/Thus my heart has died” from “Isolation,” “When I kiss your lips/I’m another kiss closer to death” in second cut “Egyptian Tomb” and “Life is slow death/Long, drawn process/Leave me to live with love’s cold ghost” from the subsequent “Reincarnation of Yesterday,” etc., a vivid picture emerges of just where With the Dead are coming from, though it only makes the title doubly ironic (or does it cancel out the irony, like a double negative?) that a decent portion of the lyrics Dorrian shouts out from under the abyssal slogging progressions of guitarist Tim Bagshaw (Ramesses), bassist Leo Smee (formerly a bandmate of Dorrian‘s in Cathedral) and drummer Alex Thomas (formerly of Bolt Thrower) deal directly with love as much as with death, though opener “Isolation” would seem to be the most efficient summary included of the general point of view. With the Dead‘s love is a wretched, lost thing, and as the band’s stated intention their first time out was to be as grueling and aurally disgusting as possible, one can only call their efforts in surpassing that standard successful as these seven tracks/67 minutes play out with rigor-setting-in lumber and unrelenting bleakness.

As noted, “Isolation” sets the tone at the album’s launch, and that happens both figuratively and literally — the first thing we hear as the song begins is the dirt-crusted guitar of Bagshaw, coated in noise and soon joined by the plod of Thomas‘ drumming and the deeply weighted low end from Smee, captured in raw fashion by returning producer Jaime Gomez Arellano. At just under eight minutes, “Isolation” is by no means the longest cut on Love from With the Dead — that would be closer “CV1” at 18:03 — but it does immediately convey the challenge the band are putting forth. “Embrace the shadows of endless night” goes the first lyric, and though there’s a hint of melody in the chorus and it won’t be the last as the rest of the record unfolds, its riffs spreading outward like a plague, With the Dead sound like they mean it. They could’ve just as easily have called the album ‘Sincerely Yours’ and made their point.

With-The-Dead-photo-Ester-Segarra

Though “Egyptian Tomb,” which presumably closes out side A and “Reincarnation of Yesterday,” which starts a side B concluded by the following nine-minute “Cocaine Phantoms,” are somewhat faster, the atmospheric impression is made and maintained. With the Dead offer vicious, nodding groove and darken-the-sky doom, regardless of tempo or other factors. That cohesiveness speaks to the underlying mission of the band as founded by Bagshaw and Dorrian, and it’s worth noting that as new members, Smee and Thomas — the latter of whom replaces Bagshaw‘s former Ramesses bandmate Mark Greening — fit the lineup and the mission without question, and as much as the purpose of the album is regression of sound and spirit, With the Dead do move forward from the self-titled in these tracks, if only in their ultra-downer trajectory. Each crash of “Reincarnation of Yesterday” seems to slam itself into the ear, and with mournfully echoing strains of Bagshaw‘s guitar at its core, “Cocaine Phantoms” finishes out the first of Love from With the Dead‘s two LPs in direct answer to the churn of “Isolation,” surrounded by ghosts, caked in stench and unwilling to offer letup of any sort.

To wit, the second platter. Comprised only of three songs, it pairs the 10-minute “Watching the Ward Go By” and “Anemia” on side C with the aforementioned closer “CV1” on side D and moves even further into the depths than With the Dead have already gone. “Watching the Ward Go By” spends its first five-plus minutes in ambient minimalism, some spoken word from Dorrian complementing for a sense of incantation before an explosion of volume and shouts consumes much of the remaining bulk of the piece. That would seem to make “Anemia,” at just 6:49, something of a lifeline to the audience, but the reality is it’s anything but. Instead, it plunders forth its extremity and once more underscores the point of view from which the album emerges in the lines, “No love/No joy/No hope/No life.” I’m not sure there’s a simpler way to put it than that. Once more the tones are brutal but not without a corresponding sense of atmosphere, and as they fade out and “CV1” begins it’s clear Love from With the Dead has hit a particular moment of arrival. And so it has.

The finale uses all of its 18 minutes to mete out a final, exhaustive round of punishment, and by the time its first 60 seconds are up, it’s begun its movement toward the chaotic and abrasive noise that will comprise its ending while also providing the seeming landing point for where the spiral has been leading all along. By the time the layered vocals arrive eight minutes in, the tones surrounding are duly noxious, and “CV1” isn’t much past its halfway mark before the current of caustic feedback begins to swell to prominence. First it comes from under the central riff, then eventually it takes hold and seems to swallow the entire march still ongoing until it’s the only thing left and the album has rendered itself, finally, more or less unlistenable in its last moments. Like everything With the Dead do here, that too is on purpose and true to their overarching modus, and though it might not always seem like it, one of the most impressive aspects of Love from With the Dead is that it manages to push beyond the extremity of the group’s first outing without giving up the feeling of mastery behind its concept and execution. One should probably expect no less from players who are hardly newcomers either to each other’s work or in terms of general studio experience, but that With the Dead manage to retain their cohesion while giving an atmosphere surrounded by melting, rotting flesh only speaks to the strength in their bones. May they defile into perpetuity, “yours truly” to anyone bold enough to have them.

With the Dead, “Anemia”

With the Dead on Thee Facebooks

Rise Above Records on Thee Facebooks

Rise Above Records on Twitter

Rise Above Records website

Tags: , , , , ,

Beastmaker Release Coven Born Digital EP to Fund European Touring

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 31st, 2017 by JJ Koczan

beastmaker

Pretty killer European tour that Fresno, California’s Beastmaker will join Ukrainian heavyweights Stoned Jesus for this October, what with the stops being made at Up in Smoke, Desertfest Belgium, Keep it Low and other key positions in London, Paris, Hamburg, Berlin, Vienna and so on. But being awesome don’t pay the bills, and the dollar’s down against the Euro because fuck everything, so the trio — still just months out from the release of their second album, Inside the Skull (review here), through Rise Above — have released a new digital EP culled from material written around the time of their 2016 debut, Lusus Naturae (review here), that never came out.

Worth noting they say in the announcement below snagged from the social medias that they probably won’t keep the thing up for too long, so if you want it, might be the right idea to get it while the getting’s good. Behold:

beastmaker coven born

Beastmaker – Coven Born EP

Digital EP up on Beastmaker.bandcamp.com. Heading to Europe and blood is expensive over there.

Be on the lookout we will be doing a 4 song digital ep of songs that are from the Lusus Naturae era that didn’t get recorded. This will be exclusive to digital and is going up to help support the upcoming European tour. After the tour the tracks are more than likely to disappear possibly forever. Art will be done by Branca Studio Rise Above Records was kind of enough to let us do this for the world to hear. So we’d like to give them a huge shout out for their support.

Coven Born tracklisting:
1. Coven Born 04:24
2. Killing Spree 03:16
3. Amongst The Buried 04:42
4. Whitewood 03:16

BEASTMAKER w/ Stoned Jesus European tour:
Oct 02 Stengade København N, Denmark
Oct 03 Hafenklang Hamburg, Germany
Oct 04 Underground Koln, Germany
Oct 05 Lido Berlin, Germany
Oct 07 Up In Smoke Pratteln, Switzerland
Oct 08 Le Ferrailleur Nantes, France
Oct 09 Petit Bain Paris, France
Oct 11 The Exchange St Philips, United Kingdom
Oct 12 Clwb Ifor Bach Cardiff, United Kingdom
Oct 13 Underworld London, United Kingdom
Oct 14 Desertfest Antwerp, Belgium
Oct 15 Burger Weeshuis Deventer, Netherlands
Oct 16 Westwerk Osnabrück, Germany
Oct 17 Faust Hannover, Germany
Oct 19 ShowBarlang Budapest, Hungary
Oct 20 Arena Vienna, Austria
Oct 21 Keep It Low Munich, Germany
Oct 22 PMK Innsbruck, Austria
Oct 23 Ostpol Dresden, Germany
Oct 24 Schlachtof Wiesbaden, Germany
Oct 25 Werk 2 Leipzig, Germany
Oct 26 007 Praha, Czech Republic

https://www.facebook.com/Beastmaker
https://beastmaker.bandcamp.com/
http://www.riseaboverecords.com/

Beastmaker, Coven Born EP (2017)

Tags: , , , , ,

Friday Full-Length: Electric Wizard, Witchcult Today

Posted in Bootleg Theater on August 18th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Electric Wizard, Witchcult Today (2007)

Even a decade later, it’s hard to fully assess the influence Electric Wizard‘s sixth album has had, because that influence, like the band’s witchcult itself in the lyrics of the opening title-track, is still growing. Released in 2007 on Rise Above Records, Witchcult Today was a genuine landmark moment. For the band, it was such a turnabout and such a feeling of comeback that it was hard to believe it had only been three years since the band released the prior We Live, which introduced guitarist Liz Buckingham (formerly of 13 and Sourvein) to the lineup of the already-influential Dorset doomers alongside founder Jus Oborn. Electric Wizard had by then long since established themselves as crucial to the sphere of underground doom via the unholy trinity of their first three albums — 1995’s Electric Wizard, 1997’s Come My Fanatics… and 2000’s Dopethrone (discussed here) — and perhaps part of the reason Witchcult Today was so able to blindside their listenership and so greatly add to their reputation as stylistic forerunners was because 2002’s Let us Prey and the aforementioned We Live seemed to be searching for a new direction after hitting such a peak with their initial approach, but whatever did it, Witchcult Today brought a new generation of listeners under Electric Wizard‘s droner-stoner spell and perhaps even more than Dopethrone stands as the single most important work the band has done to-date. Without it, one can only wonder if cult doom would exist as it does.

There’s not really much secret to the approach of Witchcult Today, and whatever else one might accuse Electric Wizard of being throughout their nearly 25-year tenure — preceded by Oborn‘s time in Lord of Putrefaction and Thy Grief Eternal — they’ve never been subtle. But while Let us Prey and We Live descended into weedian scummer sludge and grew more abrasive in their overall affect, the unmanageable 59-minute/eight-track Witchcult Today brought that resin-coated filth to new levels of aesthetic achievement. At least partial credit has to go to Liam Watson at Toe Rag Studios, whose recording and mixing job highlighted the absolute tonal murk of Oborn and Buckingham‘s guitars and the depths of Rob Al-Issa‘s basslines while still allowing Oborn‘s vocals and Shaun Rutter‘s drums to cut through and provide listeners a lifeline so as to not get lost in the hazy onslaught — at least until the 11-minute penultimate instrumental, “Black Magic Rituals and Perversions,” where getting listeners lost is clearly the intention — but however more resonant the tracks became through the manner in which they were recorded on vintage gear and compiled at the mixing console, one can’t discount the raw achievement of songwriting on Witchcult Today either. There simply isn’t a miss. As “Witchcult Today” marched/oozed into subsequent tracks like the shuffling “Dunwich” and the drawling “Satanic Rites of Drugula,” Electric Wizard beat their audience over the head with riff after riff, hook after hook, and created an atmosphere of such memorable craft that even as they basically reused the rhythm of “Witchcult Today” in “The Chosen Few” and seemed to answer the opener’s riff in closer “Saturnine,” the tiny differences from one to the other to the other stood out and made all three songs highlight pieces only bolstered by their redundancy. It’s supposed to be a slog. You wouldn’t die otherwise.

And whether it was the interlude “Raptus” or the sampled whispers deep into “Black Magic Rituals and Perversions,” Witchcult Today boasted an ambience to match the grab-your-brain-and-melt-it catchiness of “Torquemada ’71” — the theme for a grainy horror movie that was never made — making its aesthetic impact all the more pivotal. The darkened swirl of “Saturnine” at the end of the record affirmed the fixation on death, misanthropy and cultish thematics, but even as the four-piece pushed outward to a noisy deconstruction of the bleak, stoned and sprawling world they created, they held fast to the hypnotic sensibility that typified the album as a whole. The tie-in between that hypnosis, the catchiness of their choruses, the sheer will of repetition executed, the lyrical references to old horror flicks speaking directly to the converted, and the sense of presence that came through Watson‘s mix made Witchcult Today absolutely work on every level in a way that Electric Wizard never had before, even on their early releases, which many will still argue as the pinnacle of the band. Like I said, there just wasn’t a miss, and I think the massive influence Witchcult Today has had over the last 10 years and continues to have speaks to this achievement in aesthetic. It’s early for such proclaiming, but no question the time will come when we speak about this record as a classic in doom. Already it serves as one of the most essential LPs of the 2000s.

Its influence would prove to be as much internal as external as well. In 2010, they followed Witchcult Today with Black Masses (review here), which renewed their collaboration with Watson and with songs like “Satyr IX,” “Black Mass,” and “Crypt of Drugula” felt very much informed by what the 2007 outing had established. Likewise, their 2012 tape EP, Legalise Drugs and Murder (review here) derived its title-track from a redux on “The Chosen Few,” and it seemed that even five years later, Electric Wizard were still affected by the scope of what they’d manage to bring to bear on Witchcult Today. 2014’s Time to Die (review here) — produced again by Watson, mixed by Chris Fielding — marked a shift to Spinefarm Records after a falling out with Rise Above, was their longest offering yet at 66 minutes and dug righteousness out of its chaotic gruel, but ultimately seemed staid more like it was playing to form of the two full-lengths before it rather than pushing farther in the way that one could say even Black Masses did via its more psychedelic take.

Rumors have abounded for more than a year at this point about release dates for a ninth Electric Wizard full-length being in various stages of production and/or readiness for release, and among the most encouraging aspects of an initial announcement put out last Spring was that the band was seeking a “fresh turn of the turf” in terms of their sound. Does that mean they’ll innovate their style with the kind of freshness they brought to Witchcult Today a decade ago? Can lightning strike three times for a group who already enjoy status as having made some of the most fundamental contributions to doom? Last I heard, we might find out before the end of the year. As to what actually happens when the next Electric Wizard surfaces, or when that actually will happen, only a fool would dare to offer any prediction.

As always, I hope you enjoy. Thanks for reading.

Well, this weekend is turning out to be much different than was initially conceived. By the time you read this, The Patient Mrs. and I will very likely already be in New Jersey, which was not at all the original intent. An ambulance took my 102-year-old maternal grandmother to the hospital yesterday afternoon, and well, there’s little more you can do than get up at 4AM and get your ass out the door as quickly as possible to be there for your family. Gotta go, gotta go.

My original intention for the day had been to go see Anathema tonight in Boston, because I so very much enjoyed their new album and would like to see them again. Had a photo pass set up and everything. Not gonna happen.

I’ve also been back and forth with the Gozu dudes about doing an in-studio with them as they track their next record in New Hampshire, currently in progress. That was supposed to be tomorrow. Up in the air right now.

Everything is pretty much pending what the situation is with my grandmother. They said she broke her hip and no one really knows how. She’s old enough that, frankly, it could’ve just happened by moving or bumping into the corner of a table or something, but old people and busted hips. You know how it goes. Apparently she’s not really awake. There’s a consult this morning with an orthopedist, after which we’ll hopefully know more. Everyone’s very upset, myself included to be honest, but it’ll be what it’ll be.

My mind is elsewhere as I’m sure you can imagine, but here’s a quick rundown of how next week may or may not shake out as per my notes:

Mon.: Kal-El album stream/review; maybe Gozu in-studio.
Tue.: Grande Royale stream/review; Vokonis vinyl giveaway.
Wed.: Queens of the Stone Age review; Six Dumb Questions with Pagan Altar.
Thu.: Blackfinger track premiere/review; maybe R.I.P. track premiere as well.
Fri.: Grigax review.

Busy busy busy, and again, all of this is subject even more to change than usual pending how the above pans out, what state I’m in mentally and geographically at what point, and so on. Sorry to be vague but there’s just a lot right now I don’t really know. That’s the basic shape I hope to give next week. We’ll see if I can make it happen.

This weekend is Psycho Las Vegas. I was supposed to go. I didn’t. Kind of a long story there, and not entirely pleasant, but if you’re there, I hope it’s a blast and that you have a great and safe time. If you’re elsewhere, I hope the same. Either way, please take a few minutes if you have them to check out the forum and radio stream, and thanks once again for reading.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

Tags: , , , , ,

Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats to Reissue Vol. 1 Oct. 13

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 8th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

I’ve never heard Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats‘ first album. 2010’s Vol. 1 has been in my YouTube recommendations for years now, but I’ve blatantly refused to take it on — my position being that if I’m going to hear the super-limited, one-time-only release that started off one of the most landmark UK acts of this decade, I was going to do it right. The physical pressing. I didn’t even let it play when I grabbed the embed code to put it at the bottom of this post just now. And, well, as you can see in the PR wire info below, there were CD-Rs 30 made, and when I interviewed founding guitarist/vocalist Kevin R. Starrs back in 2015, I failed to ask him for one, so that was pretty much out. There you go. To this day, I’ve never heard Vol. 1, thinking maybe I’d run into it properly at some point or another.

Rise Above Records is about to make that much easier to do. The label that has stood behind the band since it stepped up in 2012 to issue their 2011 breakthrough, Blood Lust (discussed here), along with the subsequent offerings, 2013’s Mind Control (review here) and 2015’s The Night Creeper (review here), will oversee a first official pressing of Vol. 1 on Friday, Oct. 13, with a new mix and master by Starrs himself. It’s been kind of a quiet year for Uncle Acid so far, at least relative to the amount of touring they did in 2015/2016, and as such a perfect opportunity for the band to recount their beginnings to what’s now a vast and global audience. Myself included.

From the PR wire:

uncle-acid-and-the-deadbeats-vol-1

Rise Above Records To Release Uncle Acid The Deadbeats’ “Vol 1” Friday October 13th

First released on Friday February 13th, (40 years to the day after Black Sabbath’s debut LP), “Vol 1” was the first efforts of unknown songwriter, Kevin Starrs. Pressed in small numbers for a non existing fan base, the album took several months to shift all 30 CD-R copies and provided a small platform to fund its follow up, “Blood Lust” (2011).

Recorded on a tight budget of stashed dole money and with little knowledge or regard for conventional recording techniques, the chaotic results speak for themselves;

Distorted vocals, out of tune harmonies, ragged musicianship and everything pushed to the red. The clatter of mic stands falling over mid performance, the rustling of lyric papers, the missed key changes and flubbed lines. Everything you would want to avoid is here. Self-funded, self-recorded and self released to a fanfare of silence, “Vol 1” was a true D.I.Y. effort from start to finish. No great ambition, no target audience, no press support. Just a collection of songs for anyone who would listen. With it’s mix of budget horror lyrics, Everly Brothers obsessed harmonies, downer rock riffs, overly long guitar solos and bizarre high pitched vocals, “Vol 1” had very limited appeal outside a small group of underground fanatics.

In the years following, the album became something of a cult curiosity. Despite the shoddy work of bootleggers and impatient collectors, Starrs refused to re release the album until he could work on its remix and oversee the mastering. “It was a D.I.Y project from the beginning so I wasn’t going to give it up and let someone else mess with it. I also wasn’t going to cash in on something for the sake of it. I wanted it to sound the best that it possibly could. The record deserves my full attention, so with no new album to distract anyone in 2017, it was the perfect time to work on it and release it on CD and Vinyl. It can stand on its own… flaws included.”

So here it is, “Vol 1” in all its ragged glory… finally mastered and mixed for this release.

Enjoy.

“Vol 1” Track Listing:
1. Crystal Spiders
2. Witches Garden
3. Dead Eyes of London
4. Lonely and Strange
5. Vampire Circus
6. Do What Your Love Tells You
7. I Don’t Know
8. Wind Up Toys

https://www.uncleacidband.com
https://www.facebook.com/uncleacid/
https://www.facebook.com/riseaboverecords/
http://www.riseaboverecords.com/

Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, Vol. 1 (2010)

Tags: , , , , , ,

Up in Smoke 2017 Adds Troubled Horse; Lineup Complete

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 4th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

With the inclusion of Sweden’s Troubled Horse, the lineup for Up in Smoke 2017 is finished. A total of 21 bands will play the two-day festival in Pratteln, Switzerland, as part of a busy Fall festival season across Europe, and Troubled Horse join the likes of GraveyardSaint VitusBrant BjorkOrange GoblinLowrider, Church of Misery, Toner LowStoned JesusBeastmaker, Ufomammut and Radio Moscow — among others, obviously — as they step out to support their sophomore outing, Revolution on Repeat (review here), released earlier this year by the venerable Rise Above Records.

Info on how the lineup is split over the two days is due out any second now (will probably go live about two minutes after this post, which is my usual luck with such things), but here’s the announcement for Troubled Horse as posted by the fest:

up in smoke 2017 troubled horse

Happy summer to all of you “Up in Smokers” !!!

Before leaving the office for a small August break, we are happy to announce today one more great band for our event. Troubled Horse, the swedish Pioneers of Heavy-Garage-Rock are joining the UP in SMOKE indoor festival in Z7. With this last name, our line up is now complete.

The daily split of bands and the daytickets will be announced this Thursday at 6 pm /18 H.

Due to the fact that we plan improvements on the stages,the outdoor area, the line up and the general higher costs every year for staff, infrastructure, etc. we hope for your understanding that the ticket price for the 2 day pass will raise a bit from August 10 th on. So if you don´t have your 2 Days Pass yet, take your chance and grab it now for the still reduced price.

More information also for the much demanded “sleep over” situation is coming along with the posting of the day split of the bands/day tickets on thursday. Our outstanding line up will now feature 21 bands on 2 days. The bands are playing on 2 big stages ( indoor and outdoor) with no overlapping set times.

Presales for UP in SMOKE 2017 are very good, the last year edition was sold out, so don´t hesitate any longer to get your ticket and go Up In Smoke with us.
The 2 Days Passes are available here:

http://www.z-7.ch/event.php?eventid=130

https://www.upinsmoke.de/tickets
http://www.z-7.ch/event.php?eventid=1306
https://www.facebook.com/UpInSmokeIndoorFestivalInZ7
https://www.facebook.com/events/466424317082118/
https://www.upinsmoke.de/

Troubled Horse, “Track 7”

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Six Dumb Questions with Beastmaker

Posted in Six Dumb Questions on August 2nd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

beastmaker-photo-ken-trousdell

Since the release in May of Fresno, California-based three-piece Beastmaker‘s second album, Inside the Skull (review here), the dark-rocking classic metal/heavy rock outfit has embarked on a cross-country tour with Zakk Sabbath and announced a return trip to Europe for this Fall alongside Ukrainian heavyweights Stoned Jesus. This more or less continues a campaign with a mind toward sonic dominance that began when Rise Above issued their 2016 debut, Lusus Naturae (review here), and helped to set forth a momentum that seems to still be building in force.

With the stated intention of an overall increase in tonal heft and percussive impact, Inside the Skull finds the self-recording trio led by guitarist/vocalist Trevor William Church (also of Haunt) straddling several genre lines atop a solidified core of aesthetic and songcraft. Cuts like opener “Evil One,” the doomly “Of God’s Creation,” the swinging “Psychic Visions” and the bruisingly distorted “Night Bird” excel in bringing forth structural and stylistic nuance while remaining memorable. Are they cult rock? Garage doom? Classic metal? Bleak heavy rock? Beastmaker — Church, bassist John Tucker and drummer Andres Alejandro Saldate — pull elements from all of the above and set them to work in a context of crisp, efficient execution. Inside the Skull has its twists and turns, but what it doesn’t have is a wasted moment.

In light of where they’ve been, what they’ve been able to accomplish in a relatively short three-year tenure, the fact that they built their own studio to record Inside the Skull and have already started work on their next full-length, it seemed a perfect time to hit up Church to talk about where Beastmaker are headed and what the future might bring. The run with Zakk Sabbath had brought them to the biggest stages of their career so far, so that future, despite their overarching darkness, never seemed so bright.

Please enjoy the following Six Dumb Questions:

beastmaker inside the skull

Six Dumb Questions with Beastmaker

Tell me about writing Inside the Skull. When did the songs start to come together? Was there anything in particular you wanted to accomplish in songwriting? Anything you wanted to change or do differently from the first album?

I started writing Inside the Skull during the recording of our debut album, Lusus Naturae. I was really inspired at the time and songs and lyrical ideas were flowing. I had the idea of in order to live forever you had to live it alone and we just thought that would be a fitting title for the new album. We wanted to accomplish a heavier sound for Skull. When I’m writing songs I just let them happen. It has to be very organic for me, meaning I sit in my studio and roll up a joint and just start playing. I don’t know any other way at this point. Once Andy and John come in and play the song we know if it’s a keeper or not. We tested the songs on our tour with Blood Ceremony in Europe. As far as changes from Lusus Naturae, we just wanted a heavier production. We did Lusus Naturae with a minimal production approach. We wanted to keep it rough. This time around we wanted to do the same approach but give it a much heavier mastering treatment.

What was it like to build your own studio? Tell me about the recording process. What were the lessons you were able to take from Lusus Naturae and how do you feel about the results? Are you someone who can listen to his own record?

Well in building a studio it’s more about acquiring the equipment. With Lusus, we didn’t have as much gear. Our microphone collection wasn’t what it is now. Oddly we settled on using a Gretsch Jazz kit for the recording of Lusus, which in turn we decided never to do that again. It really amazes me we achieved the sounds we got with an 18” kick drum. But with how people reacted to the You Must Sin EP, we just wanted to keep moving with that sound at the time. So first thing we did for Inside the Skull was we bought a different drum set for the recording. We are pleased with how much heavier the drums came out. I love recording – it’s my favorite part of being a musician. The creation. So yeah I listen to my own music constantly. It’s the only way to improve on your songs and find little discoveries on how to improve the song you are working on. In retrospect now after its release we’ve already mapped out all the changes for album three.

You did plenty of time on the road for Lusus Naturae and your schedule has already been and looks packed in the months to come for Inside the Skull. How important was it for you to road-test your material before the album came out? Is how a song will translate live a factor when you’re writing?

We try and throw new material in the mix as soon as we can. We just got off the road with Zakk Sabbath and there where songs we had never played live before on that tour. So we always have to see what songs the crowed responds to the most and play it by ear. Again, we like a natural approach to things. Whatever is feeling right at the moment.

What was it like being on tour with Zakk Sabbath? How was that experience for you as a band? What were the shows like, how was the audience response, and how did that compare to some of the other touring you’ve done so far?

Going on tour with Zakk was like going to college. I think I can speak for the whole band when I say we learned a lot on where our weaknesses were and how to improve. The venues were the largest we had ever played and on a bigger stage you have to relearn how you play live. Being an opener is always a challenge. Most of the people there had never heard us before so we had to give them a good first impression. But when you look out in the crowd and you are wondering, “are people into this?” and by the end of the set they are screaming for you, I think we did our job. In comparison to other tours this was a very organized tour. We went on stage at 9PM sharp, set was over 9:40 sharp every night. It actually was really nice because on some other tours some of the shows have little to no organization and you can get in to your hotel or floor space quite late. We got into our hotels no later than 1AM every night. That was nice because generally it’s more like 2:30 or 3AM.

You’ve done videos already for “Evil One” and “Nature of the Damned.” How did you select those songs? How important do you feel it is to convey a visual representation of the band? Will you do more clips for Inside the Skull going forward?

This was actually Andy’s department. I had a really hard time communicating with what my own vision was. So, it was the first time I really let something leave my hands. Andy chose the tracks we would use and he oversaw it and got the job done. I think on the video side of things we have a lot of work to get what we really want and it’s very important to try and connect the dots. You might see some more videos for Skull. You might not. Hard to say at this point, really.

You head to Europe this Fall with Stoned Jesus. What are you most looking forward to about touring abroad again? Any other plans or closing words you want to mention?

I’m looking forward to seeing all the people we met last year and to show them Inside the Skull in its live format. Also, just like our last European tour they will be hearing brand new songs for album three. So that is exciting for us. It may only be one song but maybe that one song will rotate with the 20 we’ve been learning at the moment. We want to thank all of our fans and people that have bought our records posted pictures on Instagram, etc. Also we want to thank Rise Above Records for putting out our music. Cheers.

Beastmaker, “Evil One” official video

Beastmaker, “Nature of the Damned” official video

Beastmaker on Thee Facebooks

Beastmaker on Bandcamp

Rise Above Records website

Rise Above Records on Thee Facebooks

Tags: , , , , ,

Quarterly Review: Harvestman, Beastmaker, Endless Boogie, Troubled Horse, Come to Grief, Holy Rivals, Mountain God, Dr. Space, Dirty Grave, Summoned by Giants

Posted in Reviews on July 17th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review-summer-2017

Bonus round! I don’t know if you’re stoked on having a sixth Quarterly Review day, but I sure am. Basically this is me doing myself favors. In terms of what’s being covered and how I’m covering it, today might be the high point for me personally of the entire Summer 2017 Quarterly Review. Some of this stuff I’m more behind on than others, but it’s all releases that I’ve wanted desperately to write about that I haven’t been able to make happen so far and I’m incredibly thankful for the opportunity to be able to do so at last. It’s a load off my mind in the best way possible, and as this is the final day of the Quarterly Review, before I dig in I’ll just say one more time thank you for reading and I hope you found something in the past week that really speaks to you, because that’s what makes it all worthwhile in the first place. One more go.

Quarterly Review #51-60:

Harvestman, Music for Megaliths

harvestman-music-for-megaliths

A new Harvestman album, like a harvest itself, is an occasion. Distinct entirely from the solo output released by Neurosis guitarist/vocalist Steve Von Till under his own name, Harvestman’s guitar-led experimentalism and ritualized psychedelia don’t happen every day – the last album was 2009’s In a Dark Tongue (review here) – and with the resonance of “Oak Drone” and the layered, drummed and vocalized textures of “Levitation,” the new collection, Music for Megaliths (on Neurot, of course), lives up to the project’s high standards of the unexpected. Pulsations beneath opener and longest track (immediate points) “The Forest is Our Temple” offer some initial threat, but the electronic beat behind the howling notes of “Ring of Sentinels” and the Vangelis-esque centerpiece “Cromlech” find more soothing ground, and though “Sundown” seems to be speaking to Neurosis “Bleeding the Pigs” from 2012’s Honor Found in Decay (review here) in its atmosphere, the spoken word that tops closer “White Horse” provides a last-minute human connection before all is brought to a quick fadeout. If you told me Music for Megaliths was assembled over a period of years, I’d believe you given its breadth, but whether it was or not, Harvestman’s latest should provide a worthy feast for a long time to come.

Harvestman on Thee Facebooks

Neurot Recordings webstore

 

Beastmaker, Inside the Skull

beastmaker-inside-the-skull

Los Angeles three-piece Beastmaker continue their ascent with their second album for Rise Above Records, the unflinchingly cohesive Inside the Skull. Like its predecessor, 2016’s Lusus Naturae (review here), the quick-turnaround sophomore outing executes a modern garage doom aesthetic and unfuckwithably tight songwriting, this time bringing 10 new tracks that reimagine classic vibes – witness the Witchcraft “No Angel or Demon”-style riff of opener “Evil One” (video posted here) – and touch on some of the same ground pioneered by Uncle Acid without actually sounding like that UK band or sounding like anyone for that matter so much as themselves. They make darkened highlights of “Now Howls the Beast,” “Of Gods Creation,” the crashing “Psychic Visions,” closer “Sick Sick Demon” and the preceding “Night Bird,” which offers some welcome departure into drift prior to the solo in its final minute – all impeccably crisp in structure despite a dirt-caked production – but resonant, memorable hooks abound, and the trio affirm the potential their debut showed and offer a quick step forward that one can only imagine will find them turning more heads toward their growing cult following. They’re still growing, but Inside the Skull is confirmation Beastmaker on a path to becoming something really special.

Beastmaker on Thee Facebooks

Beastmaker at Rise Above Records

 

Endless Boogie, Vibe Killer

endless-boogie-vibe-killer

One can’t help but think there’s a bit of tongue-in-cheekery at play in the inaccuracy of Endless Boogie titling their latest album Vibe Killer. The seven-track/51-minute No Quarter release follows 2013’s Long Island (review here) and is, of course, doing everything but killing the vibe, as the New York-based outfit proffer their nestled-in raw songs crafted out of and on top of improvised jams, the semi-spoken gutturalisms of guitarist Paul “Top Dollar” Major a defining element from the laid back opening title-track onward. Moody rock classicism persists through “High Drag, Hard Doin’” and the more active “Back in ’74,” but the true peak of Vibe Killer comes in the 11-minute “Jefferson Country,” which unfolds hypnotic drone experimentation that’s as willfully ungraceful as it winds up being flowing. Bottom line: dudes know what’s up. Endless Boogie’s languid roll is second to nobody and Vibe Killer is a vision of cool jazz reinvented to feel as much at home in rock clubs of the basement and of the chic see-and-be-seen variety. Very New York, in that, but not at all given to elitism. Everyone’s invited to dig, and dig they should.

Endless Boogie on Thee Facebooks

No Quarter Records webstore

 

Troubled Horse, Revolution on Repeat

troubled-horse-revolution-on-repeat

There were a few minutes there where one probably wouldn’t have been wrong to wonder if Örebro, Sweden’s Troubled Horse would have a follow-up at all to back 2012’s Step Inside (review here), but with Revolution on Repeat (out via Rise Above), the four-piece led by dynamic vocalist Martin Heppich prove among the most vital of the many heavy rock acts to emerge from their hometown, known for the likes of Witchcraft, Graveyard, Truckfighters and countless others. Heppich, lead guitarist Mikael Linder (also bass on the recording), guitarist Tom and drummer Jonas start with the boogie-fied opening salvo “Hurricane” (video premiere here) and “The Filthy Ones,” and run madcap through the memorable hooks of “Which Way to the Mob” and “Peasants” en route to the mid-paced “The Haunted” and into a second half marked by the semi-balladry of “Desperation” and “My Shit’s Fucked Up.” Soon, the standout chorus of “Track 7” (yup, that’s the title) and the penultimate funk of “Let Bastards Know” lead to a nine-minute epic finish in “Bleeding” – and all the while Troubled Horse hold firm to groove, momentum, poise, crisp production and songwriting as they tie varied landmarks together with an overarching sense of motion, Heppich’s charismatic soulfulness and deceptively subtle flourishes of arrangement to make an absolutely welcome return.

Troubled Horse on Thee Facebooks

Rise Above Records website

 

Come to Grief, The Worst of Times

come-to-grief-the-worst-of-times

Sometimes you just have to toss up your hands and say, “Well, that’s some of the nastiest shit I’ve ever heard.” To step back and consider them at some distance, Come to Grief aren’t near the most abrasive band on the planet, but when you’re actually listening to their debut EP, The Worst of Times, that’s much harder to believe. Launching with “Killed by Life,” the four-tracker finds the Boston outfit led by former Grief guitarist Terry Savastano – here joined by drummer Chuck Conlon, bassist Justin Christian and vocalist/guitarist Jonathan Hebert – plodding out scream-topped filth that’s actually fuller-sounding than anything Grief did back in their day and all the more devastating for its thickness. The seven-minute “No Savior” is excruciating, and though shorter, “Futility of Humanity” and even the slightly-faster closer “Junklove” bring no letup whatsoever from the onslaught. Think accessible, then go the complete other way, then bludgeon yourself. It’s kind of like that. Absolute brutality delivered by expert and unkind hands.

Come to Grief on Thee Facebooks

Come to Grief on Bandcamp

 

Holy Rivals, Holy Rivals

holy rivals holy rivals

The question of whether noise rock and sludge can coexist is largely one of tempo and tone, and recently-signed-to-BlackseedRecords Pittsburgh trio Holy Rivals’ self-titled debut answers in forceful fashion. Amid more aggro punch of opener “Locked Inn” comes the crust-laden grunge of “Voices,” and whether they’re rolling out the more spacious “Sleep” or sprinting through the post-Bleach raw punkery of “Dead Ender” on their way to the more ambient and patient seven-minute finale “Into Dust,” guitarist/vocalist Jason Orr (also T-Tops), bassist Aaron Orr (whose tone features well on the closer) and drummer Matt Langille – whose adaptability is essential to the Helmet-style starts and stops of “Loathe” that emerge from the preceding roll of “Sleep” – Holy Rivals put a superficial harshness to use as a cover for what’s actually a diverse songwriting process. They’ll reportedly have a new record out in Fall 2017, so this 2016 self-release may soon be in hindsight, but in setting the foundation for growth, it offers exciting prospects caked in an abidingly raw presentation.

Holy Rivals on Thee Facebooks

Holy Rivals on Bandcamp

 

Mountain God, Bread Solstice

mountain god bread solstice

Around what would seem to be the core duo of guitarist/vocalist Ben Ianuzzi and bassist/keyboardist Nikhil Kamineni, Brooklyn psychedelic post-sludgers Mountain God have undergone numerous lineup shifts en route to and through the release of their debut album, Bread Solstice (on Artificial Head Records). To wit, drummer/vocalist Ryan Smith (also Thera Roya), who appears on the dark, unrelenting and abyss-crafting 40-minute six-tracker, has already been replaced by Gabriel Cruz, and there have been other changes in vocalist, keyboardist and drummer positions even since they offered their 2015 EP, Forest of the Lost (review here) to set the stage for this deeply-atmospheric, it’s-acid-rock-but-with-sulfuric-acid first long-player. In light of that tumult and the overarching commitment to abrasive noise Mountain God make in pieces like the 11-minute “Nazca Lines,” “Junglenaut” or even the brooding tension of airy instrumental “Unknown Ascent,” it’s all the more impressive that Bread Solstice is as cohesive in its cerebral horror as it is, constructing a harsh and churning vision of doom as something worthy of post-apocalyptic revelry. Far from easy listening, but of marked purpose. They should play exclusively in art galleries, no matter who winds up in the band.

Mountain God on Thee Facebooks

Artificial Head Records on Bandcamp

 

Dr. Space, Dr. Space’s Alien Planet Trip Vol. 1

dr-space-dr-spaces-alien-planet-trip-vol-1

Perhaps best known for his work in spearheading the improvisational Denmark-based Øresund Space Collective, modular synth wizard Scott “Dr. Space” Heller weirds out across four cuts on the solo release Dr. Space’s Alien Planet Trip Vol. 1, which both underscores in its scope how essential he is to the aforementioned outfit and oozes beyond that group’s parameters into electronic beatmaking and waves of synthesizer drone. Pulling influence from classic progadelia, Heller unfurls longform tripping on 24-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) “5 Dimensions of the Universe” and veers into and out of somewhat abrasive swirl on “Rising Sun on Mars” before landing in the more steady atmosphere of “In Search of Life on Io” and launching once more outward with the five-minute finale “Alien Improv 2.” Just how many alien planet trips the good doctor will be undertaking remains as yet a mystery, but the breadth of this first one makes it plain to the listener that Heller’s sonic universe is wide open and, seemingly, ever-expanding.

Øresund Space Collective on Thee Facebooks

Space Rock Productions website

 

Dirty Grave, So Fall and Crawl Away

dirty-grave-so-fall-and-crawl-away

Brazilian doomers Dirty Grave issue the three-song single/EP So Fall and Crawl Away (bonus points for the Alice in Chains reference) ahead of making their full-length debut reportedly any minute now with an album called Evil Desire. Comprised of two studio tracks in the eight-minute “The Black Cloud Comes” and the four-minute Howlin’ Wolf cover “Evil (Is Going On)” and with the live cut “Unholy Son – Live” as a kind of bonus track, it’s a sampling behind two similar short releases, 2014’s Vol. II and 2013’s Dirty Grave (which featured a studio version of “Unholy Son”), that sleeks through eerie doom loosely tinged with psychedelia and smoked-out vibing. “Evil (Is Going On)” is more uptempo, perhaps unsurprisingly, but is giving a likewise treatment all the same, its final solo shredding into oblivion with stoned abandon. “Unholy Son – Live” is rawer but still carries through its melody in the vocals amid a prevalent crash, and if it’s a portend of things to come on Evil Desire, then So Fall and Crawl Away serves as a warning worth heeding.

Dirty Grave on Thee Facebooks

Dirty Grave on Bandcamp

 

Summoned by Giants, Stone Wind

summoned-by-giants-stone-wind

If you have a convenient narrative for what West Coast heavy rock has become over the last decade, Summoned by Giants’ debut album, Stone Wind, is probably too aggressive on the whole to fit it neatly. Their cleaner parts, the rolling second cut “Diamond Head” and samples throughout have aspects of that post-Red Fang party vibe, but to listen to the rawness of the bass tone that starts “Return” or closer “I Hate it When You Breathe,” or even the slurring “come at me, bro”-style rant sampled at the seven-track/27-minute album’s launch, a will toward violence is never far off. Couple that with the thickened noise punk of “Saturn” and the Weedeater sludge of the penultimate “Dying Wish,” and Summoned by Giants – guitarist/vocalist Sean Delaney, guitarist Jordan Sattelmair, bassist/vocalist Patrick Moening and drummer Mel Burris – seem more interested in doling out punishment than kicking back, making a silly video and having a good time. Well, maybe they’re having a good time, but they’re doing so while kicking your ass.

Summoned by Giants on Thee Facebooks

Summoned by Giants on Bandcamp

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

With the Dead Announce New Album Love from With the Dead out Sept. 22

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 13th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

with the dead ester segarra

If you were thinking you had a grip on what the rest of 2017 had to offer in doom, don’t forget to put With the Dead on your wishlist. The Lee Dorrian-fronted group — which now along with guitarist Tim Bagshaw of Ramesses also features bassist Leo Smee (formerly a bandmate of Dorrian‘s in Cathedral) and ex-Bolt Thrower drummer Alex Thomas — will follow-up their 2015 self-titled debut (review here) on Sept. 22 with Love from With the Dead, a record that will attempt to outdo the first outing’s utter sense of decay and disaffection.

Rest assured, it has its work cut out for it in that effort, but if you don’t believe With the Dead can go darker, heavier and more completely-fucked than they already were, you should take another look at that lineup above. I’m putting in an early bet that this one’s going to be a god damned monster. Hopefully more to come.

Fresh off the PR wire:

with-the-dead-love-from-with-the-dead

With The Dead To Release Sophomore Album “Love From With The Dead” September 22nd via Rise Above Records

Doom is all around us. The optimism of a new millennium has steadily disintegrated. The light at the end of the tunnel turned out to be a burning tower block and the powers-that-be are dancing in the smoldering ruins. Humanity is eating itself and we’re all terminally fucked. As a result, it makes perfect sense that the emergence of British doom metal mavens With The Dead would strike a dissonant chord with so many people. Formed in 2014 by former Cathedral/Napalm Death frontman and Rise Above Records boss Lee Dorrian and ex-Electric Wizard/Ramesses bassist/guitarist Tim Bagshaw, the band coalesced in a monetary burst of spontaneity and shared fury, resulting in the release of their eponymous debut album in 2015: one of that year’s most widely acclaimed releases and a welcome shot in the arm for fans of merciless, unrelenting sonic despair.

Hell-bent on staking a further claim to be doom metal’s most intense and remorseless practitioners, With The Dead have now completed work on their second album, “Love From With The Dead”, which will be released September 22nd on Rise Above Records. Comprising tracks recorded during two separate sessions with celebrated studio guru Jaime Gomez Arellano, the new material represents the first fruits of the band’s recently retooled line-up. Joining Lee and Tim are bassist Leo Smee and drummer Alex Thomas, who replaces the departed Mark Greening.

For those who flinched at the sheer, unforgiving brutality of With The Dead’s first record, the songs on “Love From With The Dead” are liable to cause major emotional trauma. Darker, denser, more despondent and sickeningly heavy in numerous senses of the word, this is an album that re-establishes doom as a genre that embraces the extreme and not just some cozy, nostalgic reimagining of the early ’70s. “Love From With The Dead” grimly extinguishes the light of hope and hammers home the hatred and futility that plagues our brief and brittle lives.

“The thinking was that the first LP was meant to be the heaviest we could possibly make, but then what do you next?” Lee muses. “Well, the only thing you can do is make the next one even heavier. So that was the ambition and the intention, to make it even more crushing. But to be able to do that you have to be crushed yourself. This last couple of years have been quite soul-destroying. There’s been a lot of personal shit going on, and during this whole process so much fucking bad shit has happened in my personal life and other people’s personal lives. Everything you hear on this LP, the angst is very real. I’ve never felt so disillusioned with life and the world around me, not since the first Cathedral album,” says Lee Dorrian.

He continues, “I’m 50 next year and you’re supposed to mellow out when you get older, but why?” Lee asks. “I don’t feel like mellowing out. The world’s getting worse, the atmosphere is getting heavier, people treat each other like shit and there’s so much negativity, how are you supposed to chill out when all that’s going on? I’m in a privileged position to be able to be in a band like this, so why fuck around? The band’s called With The Dead and it’s a doom band, why would you want to mellow out? It’s got to be pure nihilism or nothing.”

“Love From With The Dead” Track Listing:
1. Isolation
2. Egyptian Tomb
3. Reincarnation of Yesterday
4. Cocaine Phantoms
5. Watching the Ward Go By
6. Anemia
7. CV1

https://www.facebook.com/withthedead/
https://www.facebook.com/riseaboverecords
http://www.riseaboverecords.com

With the Dead, “Living with the Dead”

Tags: , , , , ,