Atala, The Bearer of Light: Burn in the Raw

Posted in Reviews on June 19th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

atala the bearer of light

The Bearer of Light is Atala‘s fourth full-length. Issued by Salt of the Earth Records, it follows 2017’s Labyrinth of Ashmedai (review here), 2016’s Shaman’s Path of the Serpent (review here) and a 2015 self-titled debut (review here), and while its predecessor seemed to follow a pattern set forth by the second album, in style as well as method, The Bearer of Light‘s seven-track/43-minute run is marked by a few notable changes. The production is a big one. The self-titled was produced by Scott Reeder, and the next two by Billy frickin’ Anderson, so the fact that guitarist/vocalist Kyle Stratton (who also did the cover art) took the reins himself this time around with a purposeful intent toward rawness is not to be overlooked. Indeed, The Bearer of Light is largely cloaked in its barebones recording, with Stratton‘s distorted guitar leading the charge cut through by Jeff Tedtaotao‘s sometimes-tinny snare and the dirt-coated low-end in Dave Horn‘s bass.

There’s still some opportunity for melody to shine through, as happens on the 3:45 side B cut and shortest track overall, “Venomous Lure” — also one of several songs to begin with a spoken sample, very much in ’90s sludge fashion — or even opener “Desolate Lands,” but much of the character of the record overall derives from movements like “Upon the Altar” and the threat-conveyance in “Won’t Subside,” which stretches to 11 minutes and layers its vocals in blown-out shouts over a lumbering, grueling central riff, like if earliest YOB had disappeared in the Mojave and come back hallucinating monsters from the exposure. Born of and depicting a harsh but beautiful landscape, the Twentynine Palms, California-based three piece indeed still qualify as a “desert band,” but their take on what that means is a noted departure from the laid-back punk-derived fuzz that has become typical of desert rock as a genre. Their trip is meaner on the whole, and particularly in the crashes of “Naive Demur” and the gutturalism of “Upon the Altar” is more kin to Crowbar than Kyuss. So be it. Some bands are suited to being contrary, and Atala hit that mark well on The Bearer of Light.

Though also structured for vinyl — kind of a given these days for heavy music — one can find summary of the point of view through which The Bearer of Light is working in its trailmarker tracks, by which I mean its opener, centerpiece and closer. Launching with “Desolate Lands” and closing with the acoustic “Dark Skies,” Atala puts “Sun Worship” at the heart of The Bearer of Light, which would seem to be no coincidence given the flow of the release overall. And while that view doesn’t necessarily account for the perceived sociopolitical reckoning of “Won’t Subside” or “Naive Demur,” or even “Dark Skies” somewhat, it stresses the importance of the desert itself as part of the character of the work, which it is, whatever other topics might be discussed in the not-always-easily-deciphered lyrics.

atala

“Sun Worship” begins with a sample of George Carlin from 1999’s You are All Diseased talking about becoming a sun worshiper as opposed to following Christianity and then undertakes a massive intro roll with far-back semi-spoken, maybe throat-sung vocals before a count-in transitions to the verse riff proper, clean vocals there meeting head-on with a meaner chorus soon enough. There’s a kind of chant in the second half of the song, which seems to purposefully devolve ahead of its fadeout, moving into the more structured “Venomous Lure” and subsequently the long-gone-not-coming-back foray of “Won’t Subside.” Certainly the stage is set for these transitions earlier in The Bearer of Light throughout “Desolate Lands,” “Upon the Altar” and “Naive Demur,” but at the same time one finds footing in the beginning, middle and end, the willfulness with which Atala dig deeper into their approach in this batch of material isn’t to be understated. Though somewhat obscured by the production — which is as close as I come to a qualm with it — that breadth is there in the material, in the interplay between melody and outright nastiness, and in the coherence of their craft and general reach of their sound. Stratton‘s fuzz lead alone in the opener is enough of a hook to capture the listener’s attention, never mind the rumble and roll that surrounds.

Subtle volume swells back the acoustic guitar of “Dark Skies,” with a rhythmic strum taking the place that otherwise might be held by percussion and soulful vocals overtop, reminding that one element Atala have never lacked has been conviction. They present that perhaps most boldly of all on The Bearer of Light, finding a way to commune with the desert without giving themselves over to stylistic cliché or losing the progressive thread of their work to this point, keeping that feel of searching for something in themselves and in their songs that has helped define them up to now. With the turn of production, it becomes more difficult to see where Atala might head next time around, if they’ll return to work with someone else at the helm or take the lessons of this collection forward and continue in the fashion of DIY recordmaking. I don’t know, but what feels most essential to stress is that The Bearer of Light is more than a test of a new production method.

It’s that too, to be sure, but it also brings out Atala‘s widest range of songwriting, and sees them able to handle themselves no matter which direction a given piece might go, whether it’s the extremity of “Upon the Altar” or the relative accessibility of “Venomous Lure” and the organically delivered finish of “Dark Skies.” Their output remains considered and rife with perspective instrumentally as well as lyrically, and their chemistry has never sounded as fluid as it does on The Bearer of Light, which is doubly impressive given that the sound of the album is so clearly intended to lean toward live performance. Four records deep over a five-year span, Atala are still growing, still pushing themselves to places they haven’t been, and one suspects that might just be the case no matter how long and how far they go.

Atala, The Bearer of Light (2019)

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Atala to Release The Bearer of Light May 21; “Desolate Lands” Video Posted

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 18th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

atala

I haven’t even had a second to check out the video below for “Desolate Lands” yet, but trust me, I’ll get there shortly. New Atala, and new Atala on relatively short notice, is only good news. The desert-dwelling atmosphericists remain aligned to Salt of the Earth Records for The Bearer of Light, which is out May 21, and preorders for the record open this very weekend. If you didn’t hear last year’s Labyrinth of Ashmedai (review here) — also on Salt of the Earth — well, it’s not too late to get into that, but these guys never fail to move forward as a matter of course, so The Bearer of Light is one to anticipate for sure. I’ll hope to have more to come as we get closer to the release.

Guitarist Kyle Stratton had a few choice things to say about it, as per the PR wire:

atala the bearer of light

ATALA: West Coast Desert Doom Trio To Release The Bearer Of Light Full-Length Via Salt Of The Earth Records; “Desolate Lands” Video Now Playing, Tour Dates Announced + Preorders Available 4/20

West Coast desert doom trio ATALA will release their The Bearer Of Light full-length via Salt Of The Earth Records on May 21st.

Returning to their DIY ethos, the seven-track desert voyage was captured and self-produced in just five days at Gatos Trail in Joshua Tree with engineer Jeff Thomas. “It’s a true roller coaster of emotions: sad, angry, confused, lost… but, you can’t help but feel hope as you follow the journey,” notes founding guitarist Kyle Stratton.

“After working with producers who I admired,” Stratton continues of the decision to record The Bearer Of Light on his own, “I felt it was my time to do it my way while implementing some of the tricks they used. I wanted to record live and not overthink the process. I just wanted to capture the moment take by take. It was a learning process for both the band and myself as a producer. I literally had no idea what I was doing but I wanted the record to have a ’90s DIY feel like the stuff I grew up listening to and I think we achieved that.”

In advance of the release of The Bearer Of Light, ATALA is pleased to unveil their video for first single “Desolate Lands.” Issues Stratton of the clip, “‘Desolate Lands’ was written spontaneously in a jam and it was devastatingly heavy. Lyrically, it’s about the desert and our connection to the surrounding landscape and creatures. It’s about understanding that nature is the only true connection we have to any kind of a god or higher power. The video was created by our friend Zak Kupcha at Circulation Media. He did a great job.”

The Bearer Of Light comes swathed in Stratton’s striking cover art and will be available on, CD, LP, and digitally. Preorders begin this Saturday, 4/20 via Salt Of The Earth Records at THIS LOCATION or the ATALA website HERE.

The Bearer Of Light Track Listing:
1. Desolate Lands
2. Upon The Altar
3. Naïve Demure
4. Sun Worship
5. Venomous Lure
6. Won’t Subside
7. Dark Skies

Catch ATALA live in support of The Bearer Of Light on a near-three-week US tour this June alongside Sixes. See all confirmed dates below.

ATALA w/ Sixes:
6/14/2019 O’Malley’s – Mountain View, CA
6/15/2019 Mummer’s – Sparks, NV
6/16/2019 Beehive – Salt Lake City, UT
6/17/2019 Streets Of London – Denver, CO
6/18/2019 The Riot Room – Kansas City, MO
6/19/2019 The Lift – Dubuque, IA
6/20/2019 Reggie’s Music Hall – Chicago, IL
6/21/2019 Mohawk Place – Buffalo, NY
6/22/2019 Café 611 – Frederick, MD
6/23/2019 The Drunk Horse – Fayetteville, NC
6/24/2019 Alabama Music Box – Mobile, AL
6/25/2019 Come And Take It Live – Austin, TX
6/26/2019 Bond’s 007 Rock Bar – San Antonio, TX
6/27/2019 Rockhouse Bar & Grill – El Paso, TX
6/28/2019 House of Bards – Tucson, AZ
6/29/2019 Yucca Tap Room – Phoenix, AZ
6/30/2019 Slidebar – Fullerton, CA

ATALA:
Kyle Stratton – guitar, vocals
Jeff Tedtaotao – drums
Dave Horn – bass

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Atala, “Desolate Lands” official video

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Thunderbird Divine: Magnasonic Vinyl Preorder Available

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 25th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Thunderbird Divine (Photo by Dante Torrieri)

A few reasons for posting this one. First and foremost is that Thunderbird Divine‘s debut album, Magnasonic (review here), is awesome, and I’m happy for a chance to revisit it while I put this post together. Second is I like the thought of Adam Scott‘s cover art on an LP sleeve. It would seem to have been made for just that purpose. Third, it gives me a chance to say how much I’m looking forward to seeing the Philly four-piece this Spring when they play New England Stoner and Doom Fest in Connecticut, because hell’s bells, that’ll be a good time.

I’m the kind of guy who keeps a running list all the time of the year’s best first albums and the year’s best albums more generally. It’s early yet into 2019, but Thunderbird Divine are on both lists.

Info for the vinyl comes from the PR wire:

Thunderbird Divine Magnasonic

Philly’s THUNDERBIRD DIVINE’s Album ‘MAGNASONIC’ Set for Limited-Edition Vinyl Pressing via Interstellar Smoke Records; Pre-order Starts February 21st!

The Poland-based Interstellar Smoke Records is set to release Philadelphia’s Thunderbird Divine’s debut, ‘Magnasonic’ on limited-edition vinyl pressing.

“I have few bands with whom I want to cooperate, and I make a list of these bands,” says Jacek Trepko, president of Poland’s Interstellar Smoke Records. “From this list of bands, I choose the ones I would like to release first. This decision is taken by listening a material several times in a loop. I look at the graphics of cover to have an idea how the physical edition should look. In this particular case, I liked the album cover, the music content fit my label profile and the music material was the best of the rest of the bands.”

The debut album, which was initially released in January on CD by Salt of the Earth Records, will bear Interstellar Smoke Records’ imprint for 300 copies. These 300 pressings will be made available in three different vinyl colors (transparent purple, transparent yellow, and black), each color limited to 100 copies. A different poster and sticker will be included in each color run.

“This is a pretty cool thing,” says Erik Caplan, guitarist/vocalist of Thunderbird Divine. “There’s really no other way to say it. Jacek got in touch with us because he heard the record, loved it and wanted to be involved. That’s an extremely vindicating feeling–to have someone you’ve never met want to work with you based on the strength of your work. We’re excited.”

Pre-orders will begin February 21, 2019, from Interstellar Smoke Records at https://interstellarsmokerecords.bigcartel.com/

– 100pcs black with poster A2
– 100pcs transparent yellow with poster A2
– 100pcs transparent purple with poster A2

All three editions come with insert and band stickers.
Each edition is unique and comes with a different A2 poster.

This debut album is a 30-plus-minute exploration of riffs and psychedelia, featuring custom art design by the band’s bassist, Adam Scott. “The inspiration for Magnasonic’s artwork stems from classic optical and psychedelic line art,” Scott explains. “It then evolved to the stargate space exploration of graphic symbolism, which we feel reflects the music’s loud vibrance.”

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Thunderbird Divine, Magnasonic (2019)

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Thunderbird Divine, Magnasonic: Proof of Qualification

Posted in Reviews on January 3rd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Thunderbird Divine Magnasonic

Anything goes so long as it grooves. Such would seem to be the prevailing ethos on Thunderbird Divine‘s debut album, Magnasonic. The four-song/30-minute full-length arrives via Salt of the Earth Records only about a year and a half after the band’s formation, which speaks to both the experience of the players involved and the urgency of their creation. A four-piece culled from members of Philly stalwarts-until-they-weren’t Wizard Eye, who made a strong self-titled debut (review here) in 2015 before calling it quits, and Skeleton Hands, whose debut, Deadlines was issued in 2014. The story goes that Skeleton Hands bassist Adam Scott, guitarist Flynn Lawrence and drummer Mike Stuart lost their frontman, just as Wizard Eye‘s guitarist/vocalist Erik Caplan suddenly had a bunch of free time on his hands with that band’s dissolution, and the new group was formed, named for a track on Wizard Eye‘s record.

Given that, one might therefore expect some measure of continuity between the outfits — and there is, if you strain hard enough to hear it — but Thunderbird Divine surpasses both of its progenitor acts in scope and execution alike. Magnasonic‘s tracks are treated to a depth of arrangement and a fluidity of rhythm that are entirely their own, and while there’s some root in the sludge that infused the sound of both Wizard Eye and Skeleton Hands, the prevailing vibe is more rock-based, languid and cosmic, drawing a line in “Qualified” (premiered here), “‘Til Shiloh,” “Bummer Bridge” and “The Devil’s Hatband” to the ’90s era of post-grunge stoner-psych, as bands like Monster Magnet came into their own on the East Coast while Nebula smoked acid fire way out West. Thunderbird Divine have plenty of crunch to go with their roll, but an instinct toward adventurous arrangements of keys, theremin, vocals and who-the-hell-knows-what-else serves them well throughout and adds a level of unpredictability to their sound that fits remarkably well alongside their more straightforward aspects, and with a loose swing in Stuart‘s drums as the foundation, Magnasonic builds itself outward as a showcase not only of how far Thunderbird Divine have come in such a short time, but how much potential there is for them to continue to move forward.

It is no simple feat to blend the familiar with material so decidedly given to reach, but Thunderbird Divine find a niche for themselves and make their sound as organic as it is spacious. Whether it’s the drop to open weirdness in “Qualified,” or the move from the hard-hitting start of “‘Til Shiloh,” with its dual vocals both working in shouts, to a tripped-out build and scorching solo and weirdo echoes and more fist-raising cosmic triumph at the finish, or the ultra-swing of “Bummer Bridge” as the shortest cut at just over five minutes before “The Devil’s Hatband” nearly goes to 11 (minutes) in its linear stretch and massive finish, Magnasonic finds itself in these pockets of a universe of its own making, and though a human presence is maintained in straightforward songwriting elements — hooks, verses, those leads — the band slips with ease into otherworldly sounds that one imagines will only becomes more prevalent as they move forward. Or maybe one hopes that, at least, while listening to the drift at the outset of “The Devil’s Hatband” that leads to the woozy key-topped blues en route to a hypnotic roll that’s so smoothly done as to be emblematic of the hey-everybody-we’re-all-gonna-get-laid-back spirit throughout.

Thunderbird Divine (Photo by Dante Torrieri)

Even in that last burst, though, there are elements grounding Magnasonic, and that’s not to say the band are boring or overly straightforward — because they’re neither — just that they’re clearheaded about where they want their experimentation to take them. The course is set early in “Qualified” for far-funked-out and they go willingly toward that heavy spatial anomaly with gang vocals in tow, floating like a ribbon of star-stuff undulating through dimensions like, “hey, no big deal y’all.” And groove. It’s the kind of cool that always seemed so untouchable, out there of a level of its own, some secret happening in some secret place, except this time everyone’s invited and if you bring a figurative or literal kitchen sink along to bang on, they’ll probably let you jam. The start-stop organ on “Bummer Bridge,” giving it a Southern rock feel if we’re talking the southern end of the galaxy, helps capture that welcoming vibe, and then things take off with the theremin spitting freaky poison, and yeah, it’s a party. Quit your job and make it happen. Paint places you’ve never heard of. Invent shit. Transcend physical reality and become waves of distortion. Whatever you want to do, it’s all there.

Debut album? Hell’s bells. Yeah, it is. And a short one at that, though I wouldn’t ask more of Magnasonic than it gives. It should be of particular note out there among all that ether just how much it’s evident Thunderbird Divine are pushing themselves toward these broad ends. Caplan‘s vocals are cleaner and more soulful than they’ve ever been, and he, and ScottLawrence and Stuart step into these songs with an immediate command of their direction and intent that speaks to their prior experience and works somewhat in contrast to Thunderbird Divine as a “new” band, even if it is a new collaboration between the trio and Caplan. But thinking of it as their debut, yes, there is more to do. More to explore. More reaches to discover, more groove, more hooks, more shred, more nuance to be had, and the fine-edged sonic details of Magnasonic seem as much a herald of future manifestations of the let’s-try-this impulse as they are righteous in the now. One listens to Magnasonic and looks forward to what Thunderbird Divine might become even as they establish themselves in a present moment.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the off-album tracks. To introduce Magnasonic and the band as a whole, three pieces — “Quaalude Thunder” (posted here), “Madras Blue” (posted here) and “Djinn au Jus” (posted here) — were issued in videos as a precursor to the album, to introduce its general mood and vibe. There’s a fair amount of sonic variety between them, and between them and Magnasonic itself, which is more cohesive, but one has to wonder if Thunderbird Divine will work to bring those different sides together over time, and if their next outing might have more of those one-off experiments included on it, maybe as interludes between the tracks, or pieces of more structured songs themselves. Maybe Thunderbird Divine will go that way and maybe they won’t, but what’s important is that their work on Magnasonic sets them up to become essentially anything they want to be. If they want to solidify around more of a heavy rock mindset, those roots are here, and if they want to float off into lysergic oblivion, that’s here too. What one hopes though is that they commit to neither end of their spectrum and continue to grow on all fronts while maintaining the strengths of craft they demonstrate in these songs. Because those are significant and not to be ignored.

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Rifflord Release 7 Cremation Ground / Meditation on CD Through Salt of the Earth Records

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

rifflord

Just a quick plug here for a cool band doing good stuff. Rifflord from South Dakota released their second album, 7 Cremation Ground / Meditation (review here), on vinyl this month through STB Records, and they’ve also signed to Salt of the Earth Records for the CD issue, which, as it happens, is also out now. Nothing like efficiency. If you’re really the pick-your-media or the gotta-catch-’em-all type, there are also tapes available from Tescio Dischi in ultra-limited fashion, the deluxe edition long since gone. But for those of us who enjoy a straightforward piece of plastic, there’s still nothing quite like a compact disc to get the job done, and as I know I’m not the only loyalist to the format — nothing against vinyl — I figured it was worth sharing the news.

You’ll note Salt of the Earth says below that it’s signed the band. I’m not sure if that means for future releases as well, but I guess we’ll find out. Either way, good record, good fit, so all the better. From the PR wire:

rifflord salt of the earth

SALT OF THE EARTH RECORDS is proud as all hell to announce the signing of the mighty RIFFLORD.

In an unholy alliance between STB Records and Salt Of The Earth Records,

RIFFLORD “7 Cremation Ground / Meditation” is now available in all glorious formats. So twist a fatty… and burn, burn, burn!

And do you know what makes this announcement all the sweeter?!

The RIFFLORD “7 Cremation Ground / Meditation” cds are in stock NOW!!

No wait.

We are psyched to be offering up RIFFLORDs brand new collection of heavy ass tunes on Compact Disc… thus making it very easy to blast RIFFLORD “7 Cremation Ground / Meditation“ very loudly in Vans, Camaros, El Caminos and in most underground lairs.

Seriously though, you HAVE to check this RIFFLORD album out, it’s a collection of songs that are very easy to lose yourself in…This is one hell of an infectious album.

Rifflord is:
Lead Guitar and Vocals: Wyatt Bronc Bartlett
Guitar: Paul Pinos
Bass: Matthew Mcfarland
Keys: Tory Jean Stoddard
Drums: Tommy Middlen

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Rifflord, “The Other Side” official video

Rifflord, 7 Cremation Ground / Meditation (2018)

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Thunderbird Divine Premiere “Qualified”; Magnasonic Preorders Available

Posted in audiObelisk on December 13th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Thunderbird Divine (Photo by Dante Torrieri)

Philadelphia’s Thunderbird Divine make a much-anticipated debut on Jan. 11 with Magnasonic through Salt of the Earth Records. All along the way since the band came into being in 2017, they’ve released material in drips and drabs, a rehearsal clip here, a video there. Songs like “Quaalude Thunder” (posted here), “Madras Blue” (posted here) and “Djinn au Jus” (posted here) have made their way to public ears and eyes, but every cut that’s come out so far has one thing in common: it’s not on the record. Less than a month to go before the release date and Thunderbird Divine haven’t put so much as a riff out there for mass consumption that features on Magnasonic.

You know where this is going.

Enter “Qualified.” The seven-point-five-minute opener of Magnasonic in all its funk-riffed, swaggering, oh-wait-did-we-just-get-to-outer-space-and-was-that-Thunderbird Divine Magnasonica-piano-oh-okay-I-guess-the-riff-is-back-wow-that-was-awesome glory. A song that sets its rhythm early and holds its welcome late, “Qualified” boasts a hook begging for a barroom singalong as guitarist/vocalist/etc.-ist Erik Caplan (ex-Wizard Eye) leads the nod with Skeleton Hands veterans Adam Scott (bass), Flynn Lawrence (guitar, more etc.) and Mike Stuart (drums) further the take-your-favorite-muscle-car-and-stick-it-in-orbit vibe. Think new-classic stoner riffage — Monster Magnet shortly before the commercial boom — and you might have the right timeframe, but Thunderbird Divine are for sure telling the squares to get their hats regardless of the decade to which you want to draw parallels. And “Qualified” is one of four slabs on the half-hour stack, so, you know, more to come, chief.

I’ll get a proper, way-too-wordy-but-probably-less-hyphenated review up sometime after the New Year, but I’m honor’d to host the first Thunderbird Divine track to actually come from Magnasonic, which you’ll find on the player below, followed by a few words from Caplan and the preorder link to get your copy of the album.

Please enjoy:

Thunderbird Divine, “Qualified” official premiere

Erik Caplan on “Qualified”:

“Qualified” is the first song we wrote together. The repeated riff in the beginning and at the chorus is based on something I found compelling during my home practice sessions before I joined the band. When I showed it to the other guys, we agreed it could be the basis of something cool. That riff set the stage for the rest of the song.

As an early collaboration, we were still feeling each other out as a band during the writing process, and, in particular, it was the first opportunity for Flynn (Lawrence, guitar) and I to figure out how our guitar sounds would mesh. Since neither of us had worked with another guitarist in a long time, it fortuitously happened that our styles were complementary. Flynn is an extremely accurate, concise player with a passion for riffs and a somewhat metallic tone, whereas I’m basically a fuzzy, guitar-soloing mess, so we don’t step on each other’s toes. You can hear him nailing down some massive chord sounds while I play a wonky fuzz melody in various parts of the song. Mike (Stuart, drums) and Adam (Scott, bass) have a very natural interplay after having played together for several years.

The basic structure came together fairly quickly, but, as with most collaborations, the devil was in the details, especially when it came to recording. We were ambitious. For example, the psychedelic section in the middle is usually a theremin and bass-feedback freakout in the live arena, but we wanted to do something with more class and refinement on the studio recording. We layered electric sitar, piano, theremin, water drum and other oddities on top of the usual band arrangement. We wanted it loose and trippy, but not random and sloppy, with interesting layers of sound to bear repeated plays and reveal more of itself to the listener each time.

The entire song was given that level of attention, with synth drones and percussion throughout. It’s truly a testament to the skills of Ted (Richardson, engineer, TedAudio) and Charles (Newman, mixing engineer, Cottage Sounds Unlimited) for cleanly tracking and mixing so many layers of sound together in such a cohesive way.

Vocally, this is a departure from my past efforts in that I used a clearer sound with less grime. It was different and a little daunting, but I was ready to try something new, so I just went for it. It’s a pretty clean take – the main vocal is single-tracked to keep it sounding natural. You’ll hear some lovely backing vocals from Brittany Marie (Mike’s partner) and Avy (my ex-wife) in the pre-chorus, with equally lovely gang vocals from our Mike, Andy Martin (Clamfight) and Kermit Lyman III (Sheena and Thee Nosebleeds) on the choruses.

The lyrical concept comes from Jamaican street slang. This kind of slang is ever-changing, and there was a recent time where folks referred to anything bad-ass or really excellent as “qualified.” It could apply to anything from mangoes to movies to beautiful women, and I thought it was an evocative way to write our own version of something like ZZ Top’s “Nationwide.” I would never claim to be as cool as the little band from Texas, but we did our thing with it. I’m proud of the result.

Philly’s psychedelic space hippy enclave, Thunderbird Divine, has set an official domestic release date of January 11, 2019 for its debut album, Magnasonic, with Salt of the Earth Records (https://www.saltoftheearthrecords.com/). The offering, a 30-plus-minute exploration of riffs and psychedelia, features custom art design by the band’s bassist, Adam Scott.

Produced by the band and recorded at both Ted Richardson at TedAudio in Philadelphia (www.facebook.com/TedAudio) and Charles Newman (who also mixed the album) at Cottage Sounds Unlimited in Brooklyn (https://www.facebook.com/cottagesounds/), Magnasonic shows the quartet, which coalesced in March of 2017, is not willing to be pigeonholed as a strictly stoner/doom rock band. Featuring Scott on bass and guitars, Flynn Lawrence on guitars and additional instrumentation, Mike Stuart on drums and percussion and Erik Caplan on guitars and various instruments,Thunderbird Divine went for an unexpectedly broad tonal variety with Magnasonic.

Preorder at: https://saltoftheearthrecords.com/product/295609

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Via Vengeance Signs to Salt of the Earth Records

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 12th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Easy to imagine that Shane Ocell makes a striking impression live with his one-man outfit Via Vengeance. Also the drummer/backing vocalist for Sorxe, Ocell positions himself behind a drum kit with a guitar and a microphone and is essentially a whole band. The slogan is: “All live. No loops.” So be it.

It is striking to watch. There’s a video at the bottom of this post you can check out. It’s not exactly recent, but I think it gets the point across. Ocell as Via Vengeance has signed to Salt of the Earth Records and will have a new album out reportedly next summer. At least he doesn’t have to wait for anyone else to show up at the studio.

There’s a secondary announcement being made here in that at least for this signing, Kyle Stratton, also of Atala, has joined onto the Salt of the Earth label team with head honcho Scott Harrington. Atala being based in Twentynine Palms, CA, it seems reasonable to assume Stratton is the connection to Ocell, who is in Phoenix, so maybe Stratton is working some West Coast A&R with Harrington, who is based in Connecticut where he also hosts the New England Stoner & Doom Fest. Interesting development either way and something to keep an eye on.

From the PR wire:

via vengeance

Via Vengeance – Salt of the Earth Records

SALT OF THE EARTH RECORDS is proud as all hell to welcome VIA VENGEANCE to the family.

The unrelenting Phoenix AZ based Sludge band known as VIA VENGEANCE was formed in 2006 by Shane Ocell with exploring the concept of being a one-man Sludge band being the ultimate mission… And he has been crushing solo ever since.

VIA VENGEANCE use no loops and Shane records all his tracks while playing both guitar and drums simultaneously. Combining both a finesse and a reckless audio abandon that must be heard, and felt to truly appreciate.

“We are excited to have him on the roster. Via Vengeance is completely honest. An original. A living breathing piece of art,” says Kyle Stratton (SALT OF THE EARTH RECORDS) “He is a one-man band, creating an amazing industrial sludge sound, something I have never heard before. I am beyond excited to welcome Shane.”

VIA VENGEANCE has toured the U.S. multiple times and is heading overseas to to tour in Holland and France this December. VIA VENGEANCE have destroyed stages with heavy hitters like Mastodon,Jesu, Big Business, The Bad Brains, Atala and countless others.

2019 will see VIA VENGEANCE back in the studio recording their SALT OF THE EARTH RECORDS debut with an eye towards Spring/Summer release.

Asked about VIA VENGEANCE, Scott Harrington (Salt Of The Earth Records) yelled this at me from a roof top…

“We are constantly looking for new artists that push their boundaries musically and creatively. Knowing how Via Vengeance pummel live crowds with Shane’s uniquely powerful sound and delivery…I can’t wait till sludge fans far and wide get to experience what this is all about. THIS is HEAVY.”

Bottom line, VIA VENGEANCE is coming for you. You have been warned. But you still won’t be ready.

https://www.facebook.com/viavengeance/
http://instagram.com/viavengeance
http://viavengeance.com/
www.facebook.com/SaltOfTheEarthRec
www.saltoftheearthrecords.com

Via Vengeance, “Lust Blood” live in Brooklyn, 2010

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Shadow Witch Welcome New Drummer Scott Wadowski

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 3rd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Hey, I like trivia as much as the next guy — assuming, that is, that the next guy isn’t really all that into trivia either — so here’s one for you. Shadow Witch‘s new drummer, Scott Wadowski, is listed below as having a 25-year history of recording and playing out. Cool. But enigmatic as they reliably are, Shadow Witch doesn’t go on to say what bands Wadowski‘s actually been in. Well, some cursory interwebular research produced the name Rumblehead as being a Connecticut-based act in the mid-’90s in which Wadowski was involved. I immediately of course looked for music but found none — that’s not to say it’s not out there somewhere, just that I didn’t find it — but I did stumble on an article from the Metro section of the New York Times from 1994 that talks about the band rehearsing in a self-storage facility. It’s got quotes from a bandmate of Wadowski‘s as well as Thurston Moore and Ian MacKaye. Check it out here.

Apropos of anything? Surely not, but Shadow Witch are nothing if not eclectic, and I know that if my band got a mention in the Times 24 years ago, I’d still have the article framed on a wall, so hey. I’ve heard, and had, way lamer claims to fame. Wadowski and his new cohorts in Shadow Witch will record a new album in 2019 to follow-up 2017’s Disciples of the Crow (review here). More on that, but probably not more trivia, as we get there.

The band’s announcement is short and sweet:

shadow witch

Scott Wadowski, a Central CT based power playing drummer, with over 25 years experience performing and recording in studio, playing in a wide range of styles including hard rock, metal, symphonic and progressive, and thrash.

Scott , known lovingly as Wad, is a Leo who likes long barefoot walks on beach…;)

SHADOW WITCH is:
David Pannullo (bass)
Scott Wadowski (drums)
Earl Walker Lundy (vocals, mellotron, samples)
Jeremy H. Hall (guitars)

https://www.facebook.com/shadowwitch.band/
https://shadowwitch.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/SaltOfTheEarthRec/
www.saltoftheearthrecords.com

Shadow Witch, Disciples of the Crow (2017)

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