Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell Premiere “Mr. Freedom” from Very Uncertain Times

Posted in audiObelisk on October 14th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

admiral sir cloudesley shovell

Oh Admiral, my admiral. UK trio Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell will release their new album, Very Uncertain Times, through Rise Above Records on Oct. 25. It’s the answer to 2016’s Keep it Greasy (review here), and the introduction of new drummer/backing vocalist Serra Petale to the fold with guitarist/vocalist Johnny Gorilla and bassist Louis Comfort-Wiggett, and the core of the Hastings-based band’s approach remains firm in their commitment to raw, mean and dirty heavy garage rock and roll. Since their first 7″ showed up through Rise Above in 2010, followed by their debut LP, Don’t Hear It… Fear It! (review here), that’s been their way, and the intervening years have only made them grittier and greasier of sound. The spirit of Motörhead weighs heavily on the riffs in opener “Very Uncertain Times” and in the structure of hooks on early-goers “Ten Years Later,” “The Third Degree” and “Mr. Freedom,” but if you’re taking on Very Uncertain Times looking for some solution to the world’s larger sociopolitical problems — climate change, Brexit perhaps, the rise of nationalism and the arc of history’s bent toward injustice — that ain’t what Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell are about. I have no doubt that were the band collectively made prime minister they’d get some righteous shit done, but their fourth LP is hardly their way of announcing their candidacy.

Rather, it is a swaggering, show-up-to-the-party-trashed classic rocking bruiser. Gorilla‘s vocals are perhaps the most Kilmisterian aspect of the record, but a ’70s shove is fervent throughout one way or the other, and even when “Mr. Freedom” cuts the tempo inAdmiral sir cloudesley shovell very uncertain times its midsection to a sleeker boogie as a preface to the sleazy “Blackworth Quarry” later on, the change is momentary before the forward thrust resumes. Only three of the total eight tracks reach beyond the five-minute mark, and the longest is the opening title-track (immediate points) at 5:39, with the mid-paced “The Third Degree” (track three, of course) at 5:31 and closer “No Man’s Land” capping at 5:02 with a “War Pigs”-style apex in its bridge before closing on its central riff, but whatever Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell are doing in a given cut, their interest is not in wasting time. They start out at a sprint with “Very Uncertain Times” and hold to that ethic throughout, relying on a classic sound and sheer songwriting to carry them through. In that, they’re nearly as much proto-punk as they are proto-metal, but they’re lizard-brain heavy rock one way or the other, and the primitivism of the material is a crucial tie to their aesthetic that isn’t to be undervalued. It’s worth noting that while the songs are unmistakable in their intent and the production is natural, there’s little about it that feels like it’s playing toward vintage-ism nearly as much as toward a live presentation, and that energy carries through in scorching moments and nods alike, the chorus melody of “Iceberg” touching on psychedelia and the later shuffle of “Biscuits for Victor” as much loaded with biker-style swagger as it is, well, just plainly loaded.

You won’t find me arguing with the basic premise of Very Uncertain Times. If anything, the band seem aware of the understatement they’re making — hence “very” — but by the same token, their approach itself has never sounded more certain. Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell have flirted here and there with ethereal premises and still offer a touch of the otherworldly every now and again, but the great irony of Very Uncertain Times is how grounded it is and just how much the three-piece know what they want their songs to be doing at any given moment. With the addition of Petale‘s vocals alongside those of Gorilla, the dynamic has shifted some, but that only works in favor of the songs and the band as a whole. More than 10 years since their start, they’ve hit, and duly flattened, their stride.

PR wire info follows the premiere of “Mr. Freedom” below.

Please enjoy:

The more things change, the more they seem to plummet down the shitter. Fortunately, rock ’n’ roll is alive and well and guaranteed to make us all feel a little bit better about the state of things. Purveyors of nuts-out, ragged and riotous proto-metal since 2008, Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell have dedicated the last decade to kicking against the pricks and whipping up a thunderous storm of gritty, snotty and irresistible heavy rock. In 2019, Hastings’ finest three-man riff squad will save the day yet again with their fourth album, the shrewdly-titled Very Uncertain Times.

A reassuring presence for ferocious rock ‘n’ roll and medicated madness in a crazy, doomed world, Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell are back in the van and heading towards proto-metal nirvana at maximum speed and with no brakes. These may be uncertain times, but you can rely on the Admiral to keep the sonic accelerator floored.

“Our main hope, as always, is that we sell millions of copies enabling us to retire,” laughs Johnny. “Purely to spare the world from having to endure another greasy Shovell album! Oh, and we want to plague the world’s population with as many stupidly loud gigs as possible. Let’s face it, we sure don’t sound like anything else out there!”

Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell live:
Supporting Church of Misery (except the 17th)
Monday 14-10-2019 Berlin (GER), Zukunft
Tuesday 15-10-2019 Mannheim (GER), Jugendhaus
Wednesday 16-10-2019 Lille (FR), La Bulle Café
Thursday 17-10-2019 Landgraaf (NL), Oefenbunker (Shovell only show, no COM)
Friday 18-10-2019 Siegen (GER), Vortex
Saturday 19-10-2019 Antwerp (BE), Desertfest
Sunday 20-10-2019 Haarlem (NL), Patronaat
Monday 21-10-2019 Hamburg (GER), Hafenklang

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Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell Announce Very Uncertain Times LP out Oct. 25

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 9th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

admiral sir cloudesley shovell

Who doesn’t want some new Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell? Jerks? Stiffs? Squares? Certainly no one I know. Thus it is with no small amount of joy that I post word of the impending — like in a couple weeks — release of their new album, Very Uncertain Times, through Rise Above Records, from which you’ll find the title-track streaming at the bottom of this post. Very Uncertain Times follows behind 2016’s sleazebag rocker Keep it Greasy (review here) — spoiler alert: they did — and offers more than a bit of the Motörheaded vibe in the advance cut, while also delving into a sleek riff and airy solo in its second-half jam out, layers of guitar eventually solidifying around the center of a boogie and the proto-NWOBHM progression that started things off just a few minutes earlier in the verse. Cool as hell, but one would expect no less.

They’ve got a new drummer as well, as one might occasionally. Does not seem to have stymied their pursuit of dirty righteousness, however.

Preorders are up from Rise Above now. The PR wire has this:

Admiral sir cloudesley shovell very uncertain times

Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell To Release New Album Very Uncertain Times October 25th on Rise Above Records

The more things change, the more they seem to plummet down the shitter. Fortunately, rock ’n’ roll is alive and well and guaranteed to make us all feel a little bit better about the state of things. Purveyors of nuts-out, ragged and riotous proto-metal since 2008, Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell have dedicated the last decade to kicking against the pricks and whipping up a thunderous storm of gritty, snotty and irresistible heavy rock. In 2019, Hastings’ finest three-man riff squad will save the day yet again with their fourth album, the shrewdly-titled Very Uncertain Times.

As frontman Johnny Gorilla explains, this band began in the pursuit of simple pleasures, and nothing much has changed…

“Our original masterplan was that we had no plan… and even fewer clues!” he laughs. “It was just three mates getting together to play covers of the stuff we’d always liked, and play a few pub gigs. We just wanted to play music inspired by the stuff we loved, 70’s heavy rock, 60’s garage and psych. But It turned out that we enjoyed our pre rehearsal jams more than our inept covers! We wrote four half-decent songs for a cassette demo, and thought it’d be a blast to get one single out that would immediately disappear into obscurity. Luckily, Lee at Rise Above thought the same. But we never imagined we’d be four albums in!”

Three years on from the widely acclaimed Keep It Greasy!, Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell are audibly on blistering form on the new record. Very Uncertain Times is the first Admiral album to feature new drummer Serra Petale alongside Johnny and bassist Louis Comfort-Wiggett, and you will immediately hear the fizzing chemistry that has already been established by this reshuffled threesome on the record’s rambunctious opening title track. Recorded at Broadoak Studios in Sussex with long-time collaborator Harvey Summers manning the desk, Very Uncertain Times has the simple aim of rocking your face off.

A celebration of tweaked-out jamming and turbocharged psychedelic rock, every last moment on Very Uncertain Times speaks of a band with a full tank of sonic petrol. From the short-sharp Sabbath squall of Ten Years Later and the raging motör-he(a)donism of Mr Freedom to the loping grooves of The Third Degree and closer No Mans Land’s spiralling freak-out, it’s a powerful salute to the magic that happens when three mates get in a dark, sweaty room and crank everything up to 11. In uncertain times, Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell will never let you down.

A reassuring presence for ferocious rock ‘n’ roll and medicated madness in a crazy, doomed world, Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell are back in the van and heading towards proto-metal nirvana at maximum speed and with no brakes. These may be uncertain times, but you can rely on the Admiral to keep the sonic accelerator floored.

“Our main hope, as always, is that we sell millions of copies enabling us to retire,” laughs Johnny. “Purely to spare the world from having to endure another greasy Shovell album! Oh, and we want to plague the world’s population with as many stupidly loud gigs as possible. Let’s face it, we sure don’t sound like anything else out there!”

Very Uncertain Times Tracklisting:
1. Very Uncertain Times
2. Ten Years Later
3. The Third Degree
4. Mr. Freedom
5. Iceberg
6. Blackworth Quarry
7. Biscuits for Victor
8. No Man’s Land

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

Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell, “Very Uncertain Times”

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

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

quarterly review

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

Quarterly Review #11-20:

High on Fire, Bat Salad

high on fire bat salad

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

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Ruff Majik, Tårn

ruff majik tarn

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

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Lay Bare Recordings website

 

Merlin, The Mortal

merlin the mortal

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

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Workshed, Workshed

workshed workshed

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

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Rise Above Records website

 

E-L-R, Mænad

e-l-r maenad

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

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Prophecy Productions website

 

Sibyl, The Magic Isn’t Real

sibyl the magic isn't real

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

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Sibyl on Bandcamp

 

Golden Legacy, Golden Legacy II

golden legacy golden legacy ii

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

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

saint karloff devils witches coven of the ultra-riff

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

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Burden Limbs, There is No Escape

burden limbs there is no escape

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

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El Supremo, Clarity Through Distortion

El Supremo Clarity Through Distortion

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

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Friday Full-Length: Witchcraft, The Alchemist

Posted in Bootleg Theater on September 27th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Witchcraft, The Alchemist (2007)

 

I never liked Witchcraft‘s The Alchemist. Listening to it now, I can’t help but wonder why the hell not? In the narrative I’d constructed in my head, it was too clean, too much trying to be prog, and it had lost the simple charm of their 2004 self-titled debut (discussed here, albeit briefly) and its 2005 follow-up, Firewood — both records to which I feel some pretty significant fan attachment — and I recall being disappointed in the title-track, thinking it was boring and too long and pretentious in its forced-seeming 14-minute sprawl.

But wow, was I wrong.

I’m not sure the Magnus Pelander-led Swedish classic heavy rockers could ever have put out another album I’d reach for as often as the self-titled, but The Alchemist stands some 12 years later as testament to how prescient the band was in their craft, finding a way forward for retro rock that didn’t betray the vintage aesthetic but allowed for growth in songwriting. They didn’t quite “go prog,” but having recently given Black Sabbath‘s Technical Ecstasy (discussed here) a fair shake, The Alchemist doesn’t feel like an entirely dissimilar vision of creative evolution, whether it’s the referential nods in “Hey Doctor” — which seems not only to allude to Sabbath in its drum fills in the speedier second half, which is a compliment to the work of Fredrik Jansson, but indeed to Witchcraft‘s own prior work as well in its earlier riff — or the saxophone worked into the penultimate “Remembered.” Even the acoustic guitar John Hoyles (later of Spiders and now in Big Kizz as well) brings to “The Alchemist” itself and the flourish of organ from Tom Hakava deep in the mix alongside the bass of Ola Henriksson (now in Troubled Horse) make that song a richer experience in concept and execution alike. I won’t say it’s void of self-indulgence, but neither is it defined by that on an expressive level across its three-part spread. That middle section is gorgeous. I feel like I’ve been missing on enjoying it for over a decade.

Opener “Walk Between the Lines” launches the album with a strong sense of movement, something to sweep the listener into the proceedings with a clarity of strum front and witchcraft the alchemistcenter that even Firewood couldn’t claim in terms of production value, sharper as that record was than the debut. Layers of acoustic and electric intertwine in the solo section, perhaps prefacing the title-track on the album’s other end or at very least sounding cool, and rather than make their way back to the stomp of the song’s early going, they bend strings to twist their way to the song’s finish and instead pick up the thread with “If Crimson was Your Colour,” which was released as a standalone 7″ by Rise Above before The Alchemist came out, and remains one of the catchiest tracks they’ve ever written. “Leva” delves into Swedish-language lyrics for not the first time — recall “Schyssta Lögner” from the first album — and does so atop a creeping blues riff that’s a hook unto itself, while also subtly shifting the mood from the all-go momentum of the opening duo to the more rolling vibe that will continue to proliferate through “Hey Doctor” and “Samaritan Burden,” which brings a turn to gorgeous and folkish tonal wash that fades gently as it moves toward its conclusion and only leaves one wanting more.

That proves to be the perfect setup for “Remembered” to revive the thrust of the initial salvo, which it does while also leaving room for the aforementioned sax — courtesy of Anders Andersson — as well as some mellotron from Hakava, thereby working as well as a transition into “The Alchemist” via the added arrangement elements, broadening listener expectation again in subtle ways. And when they get there, the title-track is consuming in narrative and its patient delivery, with its long, open-feeling midsection, later return, and post-silence epilogue as it makes its way to its 14-minute finish. It wasn’t the first time Witchcraft surpassed the 10-minute mark — that would be Firewood closer “Attention!” — and they’ve done it a few times since, but “The Alchemist” is nonetheless a standout moment amid their work before or after, a complete idea realized at a new level of complexity and presentation.

So what was it that didn’t let me see that at the time? I’ve always been a first-two-records-only Witchcraft fan, and I guess when The Alchemist came out, I was too busy resenting the indie cred they’d amassed to appreciate the sonic progress they were making. It has been my loss, but I’m glad to have taken the opportunity to correct my error. It won’t make up for the 12 years over which I might’ve dug putting it on from time to time, but at least I know going forward that it’s a more than suitable follow-up to the brilliance of those other offerings I’ve so enjoyed for the last decade and a half. Never stop learning.

The Alchemist was Witchcraft‘s last outing through Rise Above and the last to feature Hoyles on guitar. Henriksson would hold out on bass through 2012’s Nuclear Blast debut, Legend (review here), which greatly modernized their sound, and then indeed split with the band as well, leaving Pelander as the remaining founder. In 2016, they issued Nucleus (review here), which built on the steps that Legend had taken, and later that same year, Pelander under his own name released Time (review here), a solo full-length following a 2010 EP that seemed to preface more to come. Not to say it couldn’t happen, but Witchcraft have steadily been performing shows and at festivals — they flew to New York last Fall to play Le Poisson Rouge — and may or may not have new material in the works, which is to say I have no idea what’s going on with them.

Either way, The Alchemist isn’t the departure I’d so long thought it was, turning its back on the rawness of its forebears in Witchcraft‘s discography. It’s an outgrowth of those crucial first accomplishments, and an essential third in what’s been a trilogy all along. It’s not dropping off, it’s soaring.

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

By Wednesday morning I was pretty ready to die. The Pecan was out of his mind. He’d had a cold earlier in the week and was getting over it but clearly not back up to 100 percent yet. And ugh. Hitting and biting and mad and not eating and just going from one thing to the next that he knows he’s not supposed to be doing. My laptop, the kitchen cabinets, slamming the fridge door, pulling on the oven — for which we’ve had to get a lock — just one to the next to the next without stopping. It gets so overwhelming. Pulling his mother’s laptop charger out of the wall. Trying to climb up behind the tv. Grabbing burning hot coffee. Climbing on me while I’m on the can. Dude, just bash my brains in and be done with it. Please. Please. I give. Mercy. Just kill me.

It was so bad that it was my 15th wedding anniversary and I told The Patient Mrs. that I found running a stoner rock blog more satisfying than parenting.

I said that shit.

Out loud.

And meant it.

And worse: I feel like I made a convincing case.

It took basically spending two hours at the park with the sandbox to set him right. Yesterday was better to some degree. It would almost have to be. Today he has baby-gymnastics, so I’m hoping that can take it out of him a little bit, let him work off some of whatever residual fuckall remains. We shall see. My severed head, on a pike made by Melissa & Doug.

He’s not yet two.

We were going to start potty training this weekend. No fucking way. I can’t even get the kid to sit down to put shoes on.

So that’s life. Real life.

No new episode of The Obelisk Show today on Gimme Radio. They had some production stuff going on this week and were overwhelmed and asked if I minded if we skipped the episode. Being overwhelmed myself, I said fine. Next week is the Quarterly Review anyhow, so yeah, plenty going on. I’m also flying to Norway for Høstsabbat. And I need to get those Acrimony liner notes finally done this weekend. So yes, I didn’t need to be cutting Gimme voice breaks yesterday afternoon, fun as that is to do.

I needed to sleep.

Which is probably what I should’ve done this morning when the alarm went off as well. Took me about three minutes to get up and flick the on switch for the coffee pot, giving myself a little pep talk in the meantime. “Come on Cocksan, it’s just one post. Get off your ass and make that coffee and write it.” And here we are.

No rest this weekend, no rest next week with the Quarterly Review and the fest after that. I’m also going (I hope) to Acid King on Monday in Brooklyn, so I’ll have a live review of that. And yeah. I don’t know. The whole thing just feels overwhelming and supremely dumb to me at this point, but I keep going. And I guess by the whole thing I mean life. But hey, the new Iguana record is good.

Kaboom.

Thanks for reading. Great and safe weekend. Forum, radio, merch.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

The Obelisk shirts & hoodies

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Workshed Self-Titled Debut Due Sept. 13 on Rise Above Records

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 31st, 2019 by JJ Koczan

workshed

What do we know about Workshed? Well, if we read the PR wire info below, plenty. The duo were formed upwards of five years ago by guitarist Adam Lehan and drummer Mark Wharton, both of whom were in Cathedral around the time of The Ethereal Mirror. There’s a lot of invective about being heavy and trying things out in a sludgy context, but I’m not sure what the band might actually sound like, considering there’s no audio out there yet of what they do, but you know, it’s two dudes who used to be in Cathedral and it’s releasing through former Cathedral frontman Lee Dorrian‘s Rise Above Records, so one way or the other it certainly passes the muster of relevance. I won’t say the audio is secondary, because it’s not and some sampling, whether it’s a teaser, full track, whathaveyou, will be welcome when it arrives, but for now, this is kind of an announcement that the band exists and have a record out Sept. 13. It’s their first one, and it’s self-titled. So there.

The PR wire fills in the details:

workshed workshed

Workshed (Featuring Former Members of Cathedral) to Release Self-Titled Album via Rise Above Records September 13th

Emerging from the shadows after more than 25 years in the sonic wilderness, former Cathedral members Adam Lehan and Mark Wharton have returned as Workshed. This is the sound of doom metal legends, reborn in fire and fury. Workshed’s self-titled new album will be released September 13th via Rise Above Records.

Formed in 2014, this renewed musical collaboration has already grown into something monstrous. Workshed’s self-titled debut album is simply the most ferociously pissed off metal record of the year: a relentless onslaught of scything riffs, verbal vitriol and oppressive aggression that proves beyond doubt that guitarist/vocalist Lehan and drummer Wharton have lost none of their creative bite or mutual chemistry. In reality, however, Workshed’s beginnings were as unassuming as they come.

“I just had a few riffs that I’d never done anything with, and I’d gotten back in touch with Mark and we just thought it would be fun to start playing again, to see if we could still do it!” Adam laughs. “There were no ambitions or anything more than having a blast. That was about five years ago and here we are. Bloody hell!”

Recorded at Orgone Studios in Bedfordshire with esteemed producer Jaime ‘Gomez’ Arellano, Workshed may be the result of two friends making a racket together for the sheer hell of it, but there is nothing half-hearted about these monolithic slabs of virulent hate-doom. Both redolent of all the great doom and sludge heroes of the past and thrillingly fresh and inventive, songs like rampaging opener ‘The Windowpanes At The Lexington’ and the pulverising ‘Nowhere To Go’ sound very much like the finished, riff-worshipping article.

“Up to a certain point Workshed has been a project rather than a full band, although now that the album’s done it does feel like a band,” says Adam. “It’s just so easy for us to come up with stuff this way. I’ll write a song and send it to Mark over Facebook. We rehearse it a couple of times and then it’s pretty much done and we have a beer! We’ve always had a kind of shorthand or a connection between us. We know each other’s playing styles pretty much inside out.”

As far as Workshed’s signature sound is concerned, Adam insists that spontaneity has been at the heart of everything. Both mindful of their status as key figures in the Cathedral story and their shared desire to make music without restrictions, Workshed are destined to win over anyone and everyone that lives for the power and glory of the riff.

“There’s certainly doom in there, although it honestly wasn’t planned that way,” says Adam. “We just went with whatever came out. The general rule has been that this can be anything, but there must be an energy, a pissed off vibe, even in the really slow parts. If this is doom, it’s doom that has had the shit kicked out of it and woken up with a hangover!”

In keeping with the grim and vicious sound of s riffs, Adam’s lyrics are rooted firmly in the guitarist’s own battles with anxiety and depression. As a result, the songs on Workshed reverberate with honesty, truth and an oddly uplifting sense of punk rock defiance. The evergreen cliché that heavy music is a form of catharsis for those who make it (and those who listen, of course) has never rung more true.

“The theme that runs all the way through is related to a period in time when I was having therapy,” Adam explains. “There are songs about different subjects but it all ties in with the mind-set I have with anxiety and depression. There is a song called ‘A Spirit In Exile’ which is pretty much as far as I can go lyrically with the subject. It’s pretty grim. So this is the anxiety album.”

There is a rather pleasing symmetry to the fact that Adam and Mark are releasing their return to the doom frontline via their old Cathedral colleague Lee Dorrian’s Rise Above Records imprint. Still on excellent terms after all these years, both Workshed and their new label boss are happy to be reunited in this new endeavour.

“It’s actually one of the bigger regrets I have regarding leaving Cathedral, that I don’t get to see Lee much anymore,” Adam notes. “So when me and Mark started to think of maybe recording some stuff, we basically came up with two ideas – to see if Lee was interested, and if he wasn’t we’d just do it ourselves in a local studio somewhere, just so we could have something we can listen to. Happily, he was interested and he’s been really cool answering all my stupid questions ever since!”

A scabby-knuckled fist to the face of metal complacency, Workshed is not for the faint-hearted. Pitch-black and proudly pugilistic, this is an exuberant exorcism and a celebration of the restorative power of The Riff. Doom is forever, class is eternal: the real work has only just begun…

“We’re just looking forward to seeing how the album is received, and we’ll take it from there,” Adam concludes. “If things go well we’d love to do more. We would definitely like to start recruiting more people and we’d love to record at Orgone again. Fingers crossed!”

“Workshed” Track Listing:
1. The Windopanes at the Lexington
2. If This is How it is
3. Nowhere to Go
4. Anthropophobic
5. On Sticks Of Wood
6. The City Has Fallen
7. A Spirit In Exiile
8. Safety Behaviours
9. It Doesn’t Have to be That Way

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

Cathedral, Live in London, March 18, 1992

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Church of Misery to Tour US in May & June; Playing Maryland Deathfest & Austin Terror Fest

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

church of misery

Japan’s leading purveyors of riff-led mayhem Church of Misery will return to US shores this Spring to appear at Maryland Deathfest. That slot will act as the springboard for an American tour that hits the West and East Coasts and more than a few stops in between, and finds the band joined by Mondo GeneratorThe Atomic Bitchwax and Toke in alternating patterns. It’s the most Church of Misery has played in the States in at least the last five years, though they certainly led all of the Hard Rock to the slaughter at Psycho Las Vegas 2018 (review here). Their particular brand of madness only seems to win them more favor as years pass by, as though the world itself is finally losing its mind enough to catch up to their insanity.

Shows are presented by Tone Deaf Touring and came down the PR wire thusly:

church of misery poster

Church of Misery Announces U.S. Headlining Tour

Rare Stateside Live Dates from Pioneering Doom Metal Pacesetters to Include Special Festival Appearances in Austin, Baltimore

Highly respected Japanese doom metal band Church of Misery has announced a spring U.S. headlining tour. The scheduled three week trek will kick off on May 25 in Detroit, MI and run through June 16 in Cambridge, MA. Church of Misery will advance the 22 city major market tour run with an appearance at the 2019 Maryland Deathfest on May 23 and will also perform as one of the featured acts at the 2019 Austin Terror Fest on June 7.

Formed in 1996 by bassist Tatsu Mikami, the Tokyo-based Church of Misery’s formidable sound melds early-era Black Sabbath style doom with powerful psychedelic rock. Major players in Japan’s underground music scene, the celebrated quartet dwells obsessively on the topic of infamous serial killers; the subjects-at-hand are both the focus of the band’s lyrics and its overall sweeping thematic. Merging disturbing lyrical imagery and macabre news reel sound bites with infectious, wah-wah-driven acid metal, Church of Misery is a proven treat for fans of early 70’s hard rock and traditional doom metal alike.

Support on the Church of Misery U.S. tour will be provided by a rotating cast of today’s best UG rock acts including The Atomic Bitchwax, Nick Oliveri’s Mondo Generator and Toke.

Church of Misery tour dates:
May 23     Baltimore, MD Rams Head Live (as part of Maryland Deathfest) * !  (tickets + info. HERE)
May 25     Detroit, MI The Sanctuary * $#  (tickets + info. HERE)
May 26     Chicago, IL Empty Bottle * $#  (tickets + info. HERE)
May 27     Rock Island, IL Rock Island Brewing Company * $#  (tickets + info. HERE)
May 28     Kansas City, KS Riot Room * $#  (tickets + info. HERE)
May 29     Denver, CO Larimer Lounge * $#  (tickets + info. HERE)
May 31     Seattle, WA El Corazon * $#  (tickets + info. HERE)
June 1      Portland, OR Dante’s * $#  (tickets + info. HERE)
June 2      Oakland, CA Oakland Opera House * $#  (tickets + info. HERE)
June 3      Los Angeles, CA Echoplex * $#  (tickets + info. HERE)
June 4      Tempe, AZ Club Red * $#  (tickets + info. HERE)
June 5      Albuquerque, NM Sister * $#  (tickets + info. HERE)
June 6      Oklahoma City, OK 8th Street * $#  (tickets + info. HERE)
June 7      Austin, TX Empire Control Room (as part of Austin Terror Fest) * !  (tickets + info. HERE)
June 8     Houston, TX White Oak Music Hall * $#  (tickets + info. HERE)
June 9     New Orleans, LA Santos * $#  (tickets + info. HERE)
June 10   Nashville, TN Little Harpeth Brewing * $#  (tickets + info. HERE)
June 11   Atlanta, GA The Earl * #  (tickets + info. HERE)
June 12   Chapel Hill, NC Local 506 * #  (tickets + info. HERE)
June 13   Pittsburgh, PA Cattivo * %#  (on sale Wednesday, March 6 at 12 pm EST) 
June 15   Brooklyn, NY Saint Vitus * #  (tickets + info. HERE)
June 16   Cambridge, MA Middle East * %#  (tickets + info. HERE)

$ = w/ Mondo Generator
% = w/ The Atomic Bitchwax
# = w/ Toke
! = Church of Misery ONLY

Church of Misery features Tatsu Mikami (bass), Junichi Yamamura (drums), Yasuto Muraki (guitar) and Hiroyuki Takano (vocals).

http://www.churchofmisery.net/
https://www.facebook.com/churchofmiserydoom/

Church of Misery, “I, Motherfucker (Ted Bundy)” official video

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Jesus Tapdancing Christ. Uncle Acid and Graveyard are Touring Together.

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 24th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats (Photo by Ester Segarra)
graveyard

God damn. I mean, come on. Really? Isn’t there some kind of quota for awesome that this violates? When is it too much for one show?

March 2019. Uncle Acid and Graveyard. North American tour. Co-headline. Come on. I can’t even write the words. You gotta be kidding me.

I don’t know who the fuck sat down and was, okay America, you get Uncle Acid and Graveyard on the road together now. Have fun with that. Like the UN of Doom decided to do us a favor or something. God damn.

Blah blah blah Uncle Acid supporting Wasteland (review here), blah blah blah Graveyard supporting Peace (review here). Are you still reading this? Just go look at the fucking dates and get your ticket already. Think these shows won’t sell out? Come on.

From the PR wire:

uncle acid graveyard tour

UNCLE ACID & THE DEADBEATS and GRAVEYARD Announce “Peace Across the Wasteland” Co-Headlining North American Tour

UNCLE ACID & THE DEADBEATS and GRAVEYARD are teaming up next March for the “Peace Across the Wasteland” co-headlining North American Tour. The tour kicks off March 6th in Philadelphia, PA and runs through March 30th in Toronto, ON. Twin Temple will provide support through the March 16th date in San Francisco, CA. On March 18th, Demob Happy will join the tour for the rest of the run. A complete list of dates can be found below. Pre-sales start this Wednesday October 24th and the official public on-sale is this Friday October 26th

Revered Swedish heavy rock band Graveyard is touring in support of their critically heralded 5th album, “Peace”, which is available now from Nuclear Blast. The band’s latest chapter in a celebrated catalog, guides the listener through an ever-changing musical landscape filled with their trademark take on classic rock. From the opening track’s blistering declaration that ‘It Ain’t Over Yet’ to the final note of heart beating bass on the epic and moody rocker ‘Low (I Wouldn’t Mind)’ the band manages to squeeze out every last creative drop of what there is to know, hear and love about the band.

“It’s time to let Peace roll out across the Wasteland. Graveyard and Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats will co headline a tour of North America in march 2019. This will be the first time the bands tour together and were both bringing tons of new music. This one is going to leave no mind unblown,” says Graveyard of the upcoming run.

The brainchild of singer and guitarist Kevin Starrs, Uncle Acid &The Deadbeats have been making extraordinary music since 2009. After the succesful reissue of “Vol 1” in 2017, they have now returned in support of their widely acclaimed fifth album, “Wasteland” The record is 47 minutes of vital, audacious and frequently bewildering heavy psychedelia, and is instantly recognizable as Starrs’ most immersive and evocative body of work yet.

“We’re looking forward to travelling across the wasteland and destroying minds with Graveyard in 2019. This will be our first North American tour in three years so it feels long overdue. See you down the front!” says Uncle Acid frontman Kevin Starrs.

“Peace Across The Wasteland Tour”
3/6: Philadelphia, PA @ Union Transfer*
3/7: Baltimore, MD @ Rams Head Live!*
3/8: Asheville, NC @ The Orange Peel*
3/9: Atlanta, GA @ The Masquerade*
3/11: Houston, TX @ White Oak Music Hall*
3/12: Dallas, TX @ Gas Monkey Live!*
3/14: Phoenix, AZ @ The Van Buren*
3/15: Los Angeles, CA @ The Wiltern*
3/16: San Francisco, CA @ The Warfield*
3/18: Seattle, WA @ The Showbox#
3/19: Vancouver, BC @ Commodore Ballroom#
3/20: Portland, OR @ Roseland Theater#
3/22: Salt Lake City, UT @ Metro Music Hall#
3/23: Denver, CO @ Ogden Theatre#
3/25: Minneapolis, MN @ First Avenue#
3/26: Chicago, IL @ Metro#
3/28: Brooklyn, NY @ Brooklyn Steel#
3/29: Montreal, QC @ Corona Theatre#
3/30: Toronto, ON @ The Danforth Music Hall#

*Twin Temple Supports
#Demob Happy Supports

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

www.facebook.com/graveyardofficial
https://twitter.com/graveyard
https://www.instagram.com/graveyardmusic

Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, “Shockwave City” official video

Graveyard, “Please Don’t” official video

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Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, Wasteland: Living in It

Posted in Reviews on October 11th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

uncle acid and the deadbeats wasteland

Along with the stylistic innovation of their general aesthetic, the creepy harmonies and melodic centrality of guitar and vocals, raw fuzz of their tones, their information-age mystique earlier in their career and their classic-but-obscure sound overall, Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats‘ work has never been without a corresponding sense of nuance. As they move into album number five, Wasteland — released, as ever, by Rise Above Records — the fine sonic details of their work seem to come through the recording regardless of where an individual goes structurally. The flourish of keys in “Stranger Tonight,” the organ in the ultra-hooky “Bedouin” later in the record, the mellotron and faded-in-drums of the title-track, the VHS-style sampled intro to opener “I See Through You” that set up the arrival of further samples later in “No Return,” after the bell-chord-laden marching plod of that nine-minute track has receded into a long, fog-covered fadeout, and so on.

All of these things become part of the world created at the behest of guitarist/vocalist/ringleader Kevin R. Starrs, and brought to bear with the production of Geoff Neal at Sunset Sound in Los Angeles, there’s a balance created between Uncle Acid‘s long established wash of filthy fuzz grit and the melodies that are no less central to who they are as a band. Recording in the same studio where The Beach Boys tracked Pet Sounds and The Doors did Strange Days is something of a direct departure from  2015’s The Night Creeper (review here), which Starrs recorded himself and was the barest-sounding offering since their 2010 debut, Vol. 1 (reissue review here), and they flourish in the grander setting while holding to the eerie, sneaking-around-the-corner vibe that’s always been prevalent and has only helped their influence spread as it has over the better part of the last decade. With eight tracks and 47 minutes, Wasteland is the shortest offering Uncle Acid have made 2011’s world-breaking Blood Lust (discussed here), as both 2013’s Mind Control (review here) and The Night Creeper topped 50 minutes, and in addition to that, there seems to be some shift in how the band are using that time.

Consider for a moment the circumstances of Wasteland‘s release. On a more general level, between Brexit and anti-immigration populism in their native UK and an ever-present sense of disheartening political chaos in Europe and the US — the band’s two central markets — could easily justify the title alone, but when it comes to the actual songs and the album’s arrival, it’s being released at the Desert Daze festival in Los Angeles, and long before any details about Uncle Acid‘s fifth LP were made public, tour dates in Europe and the UK were announced for late-2018/early-2019.

We had “the Wasteland tour” before we knew what Wasteland was. For an act of Uncle Acid‘s profile — and at this point it’s safe to call them one of underground heavy’s most essential bands in terms of influence and their general audience reach — that they’d have a well coordinated release isn’t a surprise, but it’s all the more worth noting because so much of the focus throughout Wasteland seems to be on playing live. Of course it’s a two-sided LP and it splits more or less evenly into half with four tracks on each side. Fine. But to take the totality of the tracklisting as a linear whole from “I See Through You” to the militaristic-snare-into-empty-wind (blowing, no doubt, over the titular wasteland) finish of “Exodus,” the entire album seems to be geared toward playing live. It feels like a live set.

It launches with two immediate, standout, catchy hard rockers in “I See Though You” — a firm reminder to the audience of who Uncle Acid are and what they do — and “Shockwave City,” which comes across as something Scorpions might’ve conjured as filtered through Starrs‘ secrets-in-the-basement ideology of sound with scorching guitar work and a tightness of structure and central riff that stands tall among their finest singles. Momentum is built and slashed as “No Return” takes hold with a quiet and tense but slower progression and unfolds its nodding roll over an extended stretch replete with wailing vocals and a wash they’ve not yet brought to bear. It’s telling that at about six and a half minutes in, “No Return” drops to atmospheria, a kind of residual drone taking hold as the samples arrive. This ostensibly isn’t the end of side A — unless I’m way off as regards the placement of the songs on the vinyl; possible — but it does bring to a close the first of three movements happening throughout Wasteland.

Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats (Photo by Ester Segarra)

Think of it this way: two rockers up front, longer song, two more rockers, longer song, and the finale duo of “Bedouin” and “Exodus” to end out. Three tracks, three tracks, two tracks.

This dynamic throughout the album, apart from considerations of physical format, makes Wasteland seem all the more built to be played live. “Blood Runner” and “Stranger Tonight,” like “Shockwave City” before them, barely top four minutes, and as the former taps some surprising NWOBHM gallop, the latter seems to be composed as the quintessential Uncle Acid track, from its threat of violence in the lyrics — it’s noteworthy that Wasteland is unmistakably the band’s album that’s least about killing ladies; perhaps a sign of Starrs having an ear to the ground as to the moment — to the sweep of its hook that only seems to grow more infectious with multiple listens. These in turn lead to “Wasteland” itself, which is unmistakably a forward step in the creative growth of the band.

They’re not strangers to using acoustics or turns to mellower fare, but across its nearly eight minutes, “Wasteland” takes what songs like “13 Candles” and “Black Motorcade” have done in the past to offset more raucous material directly bridges the gap between the two sides. For a band who’ve always, always, been about songwriting, it’s a new level of achievement in that. From the swaying early verses, effectively arranged with the aforementioned mellotron and harmonized vocals, other keys, guitar, bass flourish, etc., to the build that takes hold with the arrival of the drums at the halfway point and moves into an absolute apex for the album as a whole, it’s as gorgeous it is covered in grime, and its relatively quick fade seems to cut short what could’ve easily been a longer section. No mystery how it got to be the title-track; it’s the whole point. “Bedouin” fades in even more quickly than “Wasteland” went out, and begins the last of the three salvos, which works to bring the other two together somewhat.

It’s shorter than the opener at 5:41, but “Bedouin” nonetheless makes its impact with a strutting chorus and the organ in its verses, as well as highlight lead guitar work that recalls “Shockwave City” earlier but is more tripped-out with effects in its ending. But it’s a rager, and as it gives way to the slower-swinging “Exodus” — residing that rhythmic pocket that so many in the garage doom set try to capture but can’t quite do in the same way that comes so naturally to Uncle Acid — there’s a palpable sense of an encore happening. The closer lands squarely between the shorter and longer cuts, but moreover, it has a sense of finality to it that speaks to the band’s ever-cinematic sphere of influences. That is to say, roll credits.

But, more to the occasion, it’s the grand finale of the live set that is Wasteland as a whole, and though there’s nothing lacking by the time it’s done, the fact that the two prior salvos are three songs and the last one is only two seems to tip-hat to the notion of leaving the audience wanting more. Hence the sudden cut at the end of “Exodus” itself and the shorter overall runtime. It works. The danger coming into Wasteland was whether or not Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats would be seen to have run their stylistic course. Could they make their sound do something new? They haven’t yet made their Sgt. Pepper — or, if they were after my own heart, their Rubber Soul — and they may not have interest in doing so, but what Wasteland does is to bring a refreshed vitality to their approach while willfully tightening the songcraft at the same time they push forward into new ground. There will be a lot that’s familiar to established listeners, but as always with Starrs‘ work, the deeper you dig, the more you find, and Wasteland more than earns such excavation. It’d be a show to remember.

Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, “Stranger Tonight”

Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats website

Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats on Thee Facebooks

Rise Above Records on Thee Facebooks

Rise Above Records website

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