Burn Ritual Preorders up for Blood of the Raven

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

burn ritual

Late last year, San Antonio doom rockers Burn Ritual signed to Cursed Monk Records on the heels of their successful debut EP, Like Suffering. That two-songer, released on limited tapes (gone) and CDs (gone and back), showcased a weighted tonality and flourish of classic Sabbathian melody, and the two songs currently streaming from their upcoming full-length, Blood of the Raven, would seem to follow suit. Play your cards right — i.e., look at the bottom of this post — and you can hear “The Mirror” and the album’s title-track now, and they’re both a clarion to the converted, calling to worship. Preorders are up for the album now through Cursed Monk ahead of the official release date, which is Oct. 1.

The PR wire put it like this:

burn ritual blood of the raven

Cursed Monk Records are thrilled to announce that pre-orders are now open for Burn Ritual’s highly anticipated debut album Blood of the Raven

Blood of the Raven will be released October 1st on CD and Digital Download via the Cursed Monk Records Bandcamp. Each preorder comes with the immediate download of the first two tracks from the album, plus a free woven Burn Ritual patch for the first number of orders, although patches are limited. Preorders can be made directly from our Bandcamp.

Based out of San Antonio, TX, Burn Ritual brew their own brand of heavy riffs, bluesy hazy vocals, and massive hypnotic fuzzed out tones. The band combine their love for traditional doom and stoner rock bands with modern elements making it a unique but familiar journey for the listener. Originally the brainchild of vocalist/guitarist Jake Lewis, who performed and recorded on most of the band’s positively received debut EP Like Suffering. The one man project soon paved way for the necessity for a full band of musicians to bring the songs to the stage the way they were meant to be heard. Now a full four piece band, Burn Ritual has shared the stage with bands such as The Lucid Furs, Black Pussy, and Goya.

The Black Sabbathian foursome has really cemented their sound with Blood of the Raven. And what they have delivered is an album full of monster hooks and gargantuan riffs drenched in a fuzzy psychedelic haze. A must have for every fan of the genre.

Let the burn ritual commence.

Burn Ritual is:
Jake Lewis – vocals, lead guitar, keys
Brent Standifer- drums
Richard Perez – guitar
Chris Trezona – bass


Burn Ritual, Blood of the Raven (2018)

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Burn Ritual Sign to Cursed Monk Records

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 11th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Texas doomgazers Burn Ritual issued the two-song EP Like Suffering this past summer, and the hazy ways the then-one-man outfit showed have been enough to get the now-a-full-band picked up by Irish imprint Cursed Monk Records. My chief question going forward is whether the garage-raw nod of “Unleash the Dogs” and “Like Suffering” will be maintained now that Jake Lewis has a complete lineup working around him, but I guess we’ll find out in the New Year when he and the rest of his cohorts get around to recording and releasing the album.

Until then, if you didn’t hear Like Suffering, which was mastered by Mos Generator‘s own Tony Reed, you’ll find it at the bottom of this post courtesy of the Burn Ritual Bandcamp. Here’s the announcement from Cursed Monk about having snagged the band for the impending release:

burn ritual

Burn Ritual have joined the cult of the Cursed Monk

Burn Ritual have signed with Cursed Monk Records!

Burn Ritual is a doom metal band based out of San Antonio, Texas, brewing its own brand of heavy riffs, bluesy hazy vocals, and massive hypnotic fuzzed out tones. The band combine their love for traditional doom and stoner rock bands with a modern element making it a unique but familiar journey for the listener. Burn Ritual is the brainchild of vocalist/guitarist Jake Lewis, who performed and recorded on most of the band’s debut EP Like Suffering, which was mastered by Tony Reed of Mos Generator.

The one man project soon paved way for the necessity for a full band of musicians to bring the songs to the stage the way they were meant to be heard , loud and in your face! Now a full four piece band, Burn Ritual plans to keep performing for the rest of the year and then start recording its first full length album in the beginning of 2018 which will be released by Cursed Monk Records.

Burn Ritual’s positively received E.P Like Suffering was released by the band in August 2017 and can be heard here.


Burn Ritual, Like Suffering EP (2017)

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Cursus to Release Self-Titled Debut April 28; New Song Streaming

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 20th, 2017 by JJ Koczan


At any given second, there is nothing about the new streaming Cursus track that doesn’t seem to want to be as heavy as it can possibly be. One can hear the Neurosis influence noted by the PR wire in “Waters of Wrath,” which is the first audio to come from the San Antonio, Texas, two-piece’s self-titled debut, but less so the likes of Om or YOB, at least as regards an immediate ritualistic or cosmic impression — though after listening to the band’s 2013 Summer Solstice Sessions demo (available name-your-price at their Bandcamp) neither would I count on “Waters of Wrath” to speak for the entirety of the album.

An April 28 release has been set through Artificial Head Records, the label helmed by Funeral Horse guitarist/vocalist Walter Carlos, and I’ll be interested to find out what it has in store to go with the forceful churn Cursus showcase initially. For now, they certainly seem to know how to make a first impression.

Cover art and album details follow:

cursus self titled

CURSUS: Texan doom-duo crush worlds on colossal debut | Listen to new song ‘Waters of Wrath’

Cursus will be released on vinyl/digital on 28th April 2017 via Artificial Head Records

Artificial Head Records is pleased to announce the signing of psychedelic sludge band Cursus and with it the release of their self-titled debut album this April.

Taken from the Latin word meaning “course” – specifically the mournful paths our ancestors once took to bury their dead – the San Antonio-based paring of guitarist/vocalist CJ Duron and drummer Sarah Roork first came into being in the winter of 2013 with the release of their Summer Solstice Sessions demo. Influenced by the likes of Om, Neurosis, YOB and Ufomammut, and deep in experimentation with different sounds, instruments and drone frequencies, the demo slowly unfurled colossal riff driven soundscapes that permeated and punched in equal measure.

Released through Bandcamp it quickly caught the ear of label boss and fellow Texan, Walter Carlos, who signed Cursus on the spot to his Houston-based label Artificial Head Records.

“I had toured with Cursus a few times over the years and I’ve always admired their massive sound. Their ability to crush bodies in the room with their songs is uncanny,” explains Carlos. “Initially, we were going to release a live cassette by the band from recordings they made while on tour. But as the project kept going, we decided that a full-length studio album would be better and we’re proud to have Cursus as part of our family.”

Three years on from the release of Summer Solstice Sessions and Duron and Roork have their debut album loaded. Produced in a basement-recording studio by close friend Chris Dillard, over six devastating songs Cursus summons personal and spiritual pains and turns each into amplified dirges packed with riffs, hypnotic string arrangements and spellbinding percussion. With the power of cosmic doom burning brightly, distortion slams hard into 6/8 rhythms as the Duron and Roork charter a longboat through a magnificent storm of ethereal destruction.

Cursus’s self-titled debut album will be released on vinyl/digital on 28th April 2017 via Artificial Head Records.

CJ Duron – Guitar and Vocals
Sarah Roork – Drums

Album art by Javier “Warhorse” Luis
Artist: Cursus
Title: Cursus
Release Date: 28th April 2017
Label: Artificial Head Records
Formats: Vinyl/Digital


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Las Cruces Rejoined by Original Vocalist Mark Zamarron

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 15th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

Texas doom rockers Las Cruces have set the Denizens of the Dark festival in San Antonio as their first appearance with original frontman Mark Zamarron. The vocalist, who appeared on the band’s last record, 2010’s Dusk (review here), has rejoined the band ahead of the release of their fourth album and Ripple Music debut, which has been in the works for at least the last three years. Considering the album before Dusk, the sophomore outing Ringmaster, came out in 1998, they’re still on pace for a significant decrease in the split from one record to the next at six or seven years, and of course they’ve continued to play shows all the while.

The lineup for Denizens of the Dark — which I’ve posted below the band’s announcement of Zamarron rejoining the fold — is a considerable gathering of heavy acts from Texas and beyond, easily worth your perusal. Check it out if you feel like spending the rest of your day digging on bands (and why wouldn’t you?):

las cruces

Great news to share from the Las Cruces camp. Original frontman Mark Zamarron has returned to flock.

The prodigal son has returned from his ten year dragon slumber!

The Ringmaster himself, original frontman Mark Zamarron back in Las Cruces. First full set appearance will be at The Denizens of the Dark festival Sept 2nd. We will be recording our up coming album “Altar of the Seven Sorrows” on Ripple Music.

Las Cruces:
George Trevino – Rhythm Guitar
Mando Tovar – Lead Guitar
Mark Zamarron – Vocals
Paul De Leon – Drums
Jimmy Bell – Bass Guitar

Denizens of the Dark Festival
September 2 & 3
Bonds Rock Bar
450 Soledad St, San Antonio, Texas 78205

Friday line up :
Destroyer of Light (Austin)
Las Cruces
Jason Kane and the Jive
Over the Top
Kin of Ettins (DFW)
King Earth

Saturday line up:
Mos Generator (WA)
Mala Suerte (Austin)
Switchblade Jesus (Corpus)
The Dirty Seeds (Houston)
Orthodox Fuzz (DFW)
Dead Hawke (DFW)
Death’s Embrace


Denizens of the Dark Festival preview

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Las Cruces Sign to Ripple Music

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 30th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

My impression was that San Antonio doomers Las Cruces were going to be releasing their fourth album on Brainticket, but I apparently had it wrong. Happens daily, if not hourly. Anyway, a partnership with Ripple Music is a good fit, and it makes Las Cruces labelmates with their fellow Texans Mothership, and if that even slightly increases the odds that the two bands will hit the road together, say, in a Northeasterly direction, then I’m ready to mark it a win sight-unseen. Las Cruces‘ last record, 2010’s Dusk (review here), was a mean slugger that as I recall sat in the can for a while before being released, so it’s good to see the next one coming along with Ripple behind it.

Here’s how it all looks according to the PR wire, which seems to be choosing its press quotes well these days:

LAS CRUCES: Texan doom crew ink new contract with RIPPLE MUSIC

Burly, Texan doom rockers Las Cruces have signed to California’s Ripple Music for a world-wide onslaught of heavy rock. The group, who just completed a standout performance at the infamous Doom in June Festival, have already started writing and making demos and will enter an undisclosed studio this summer to record their Ripple Music debut and follow up to 2010’s Dusk, which The Obelisk hailed as “something not to be missed by loyal doomers.”

Hailing from San Antonio, Texas, Las Cruces has spent the past several years bludgeoning audiences with their doom-driven, precision sound. Originated in 1994 by George Trevino, their influences range from Venom, Zeppelin, Iron Maiden, Fates Warning to vintage Sabbath. Las Cruces has risen to the top of the South Texas metal heap and left its mark across the Lone Star State, with a resume that includes opening slots with such acts as Overkill, Nebula, Kyuss, Trouble, Spirit Caravan, Solitude Aeturnus, Cathedral, Monster Magnet, Rob Zombie, Bio-Hazard, Pissing Razors, King Diamond, Mercyful Fate, Eyehategod, Crowbar, Sixty Watt Shaman, Vader, Kreator., Atomic Bitchwax, Gates of Slumber, Lo Pan, Earthride, Pale Devine, Kamelot, Sour Vein, Weedeater and many others.

Shortly after forming, Las Cruces began touring the Texas scene, gaining widespread recognition and the interest of John Perez, guitarist of Solitude Aeturnus & owner of Brainticket Records, thus forging the Debut release, S.O.L. After a year of touring Texas and the Southern States, Las Cruces decided to re-enter the studio. Driven by the hunger and sharpness of old school metal along with the power melodies of 70s rock, Las Cruces released their skull-crushing follow-up, 1998’s Ringmaster. Las Cruces was invited to perform at the first-annual Stoner Hands of Doom Fest in August of 1999 and have been asked to perform regularly at many heavy rock festivals in North America ever since.

Over the years Las Cruces has gone through line-up changes and rumors of break-up. However, these things have not foiled the bands ideology. The band was honored to be featured in The Encyclopedia of Heavy Metal by author Daniel Bukszpan in 2003 as well as in the publication Rockdetector Music Presents: Stoner, Doom and Gothic Metal series published in 2003.

Described as “a journey into a parallel sonic universe of all that is heavy,” their songs are sprinkled mighty, bludgeoning riffs; barn-burning guitar work, and apocalyptic vocals that melt listener’s brains. Las Cruces is poised to begin the metal onslaught for the masses as they prepare to record their fourth full-length album.

“We are absolutely thrilled to partner with Ripple Music to unleash the fourth Las Cruces record upon the underground,” comments Trevino. “Many of our friends and contemporaries have passed through the ranks and we’re thrilled to march onward into the streets with them at our side.”

In addition to George Trevino on guitar, Las Cruces features Mando Tovar – Lead Guitar, Paul De Leon – Drums and vocals, and Jimmy Bell – Bass Guitar


Las Cruces, “Reverend Trask” Live

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Duuude, Tapes! Slo’ Poke, Deliver us to Evel

Posted in Duuude, Tapes! on August 15th, 2013 by JJ Koczan

I know for a fact that I’ve opined before on the merits of charm when it comes to otherwise kinda-dopey stoner rock, and that an album or EP or whatever can be as redundant as it likes in my eyes so long as there’s some personality on display. Well, when it comes to San Antonio heavy rocking four-piece Slo’ Poke, their Deliver us to Evel cassette doesn’t make any bones about its root influences so much as it downs a beer, smokes a joint and roughs up Fu Manchu start-stop grooves to give a Tejas Crossing kind of sensibility to otherwise straightforward, ultra-unpretentious fuck-yeah-good-time stonerisms. Flip tape to side 2 and repeat. Right on.

A lot of what you need to know about the band’s approach, you can probably pick up from the title. Last time I checked, 20 year olds weren’t talking about Evel Knievel — please note: I have no idea what the kids are talking about — so you can probably guess Slo’ Poke are in the over-30 demographic. The play on words tells you two things — there is a metal influence and though they don’t take themselves too seriously, there’s an element of cleverness at work as well. All that turns out to be true over the course of Deliver us to Evel, the metallic side and a bit more of the tongue-in-cheek vibe coming through on side 1’s “The 5th Horseman,” while the opener “Cockfight” provides as straight a port of the Fu as one could ask. In between, “I Shot Mark David Chapman” reminds of Clutch‘s funk-infused style of riffing, and “Ten Speed” keeps things suitably active on the way to “Winterbeard” and “Wizard’s Sabatical” (sic) closing out with unabashed stoner fervor.

Comprised of the foursome of guitarists Jeff Nettles and Matt, bassist Jason and drummer/vocalist Danny — whose voice is high in the mix initially, but settles back by the time “Hocus Pocus” (not a Focus cover) is over — Slo’ Poke reportedly got together in 2001. I don’t know how much material they actually have out and available for public consumption, but Deliver us to Evel sounds sure enough of its approach to make me think it wasn’t 12 years in the making. Whatever the case, it’s a decent bit of riffery aimed at the already converted that isn’t trying to be anything other than what it is. Probably won’t quake your earth, but if Slo’ Poke were playing at the bar down the street on some night I happened to be in San Antonio, for sure I’d be up for getting hit over the head with these riffs live.

Slo’ Poke, All Hail the Snail (2013)

Slo’ Poke on Thee Facebooks

Slo’ Poke on Bandcamp

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Las Cruces at Work on Fourth Album

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 3rd, 2013 by JJ Koczan

Last heard from with 2010’s underrated slab of rockin’ doom, Dusk (review here), Texan burl-bringers Las Cruces are on the move as regards their fourth album. According to a comment left yesterday, the four-piece are currently writing tracks set to be recorded later this year and released on John Perez of Solitude Aeturnus‘ label, the venerable Brainticket Records. Obviously this is good news for lovers of trad or biker doom, and I can only hope they top Dusk by having the word “wizard” in the titles of three songs this time out.


Texas Doom-Metal Veterans LAS CRUCES To Enter Studio For New Album In 2013

Viva Las Cruces

Texas doom-metal veterans Las Cruces are currently writing new material and preparing to enter the studio for their 2013 as-yet-untitled fourth full-length album. The album will be a follow-up to 2010?s “Dusk” released worldwide via Brainticket Records. The band will also re-release their entire catalogue to include a vinyl edition of 1998?s “Ringmaster”, initially released via Brainticket Records.

In other news, Las Cruces will now be managed by Leigh Olson Management and Media Relations who is the wife and personal manager of Jeff “Oly” Olson, original drummer of doom-metal legends Trouble. Moreover, Las Cruces is currently entertaining new record labels as well as scheduling a summer 2013 U.S. tour. Tour dates will be announced soon.

Guitarist George Trevino founded Las Cruces back in 1994 in San Antonio, Texas and has since made his mark across The Lone Star State and the American doom-metal scene. It’s no wonder why Daniel Bukszpan, author of “The Encyclopedia of Heavy Metal,” acknowledges Las Cruces as “one of the genre’s leading proponents.”

Las Cruces‘ current lineup is as follows:
George Trevino – Guitar
Mando Tovar – Guitar
Jimmy Bell – Bass
Paul DeLeon – Drums/Vocals

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Live Review: Las Cruces and Iron Man in Philadelphia, 08.27.10

Posted in Reviews on August 30th, 2010 by JJ Koczan

Much as I love the city of Philadelphia — and I do; it’s the Wesley Snipes to NYC‘s Stephen Dorff — it’s a long way away. Nonetheless, for a lineup like Las Cruces and Iron Man, the trip is well worth it. And hey, I didn’t drive as far as Las Cruces, who are from San Antonio, and thus know what salsa should taste like. So it could be worse.

I was in no hurry to get to the Millcreek Tavern, since it was just the two bands on the bill and I knew the show would be running late. Las Cruces went on first, playing tracks off of their latest, Dusk, as well as older material and a new song called “Egypt” that I shouted from the crowd was a keeper. And it was. There wasn’t much of an audience — apparently some fest was happening down the street — but the loyal few enjoyed what the four-piece had to offer, myself included, and when they played “Wizard” and “Cocaine Wizard Woman” back-to-back, I felt like life was doing me a personal favor. Two songs with “wizard” in the title — in a row! Doesn’t get more doomed than that, folks.

In general I consider myself a fan of a singing drummer, and Paul DeLeon of Las Cruces didn’t disappoint. While guitarists George Trevino and Mando Tovar (Pillcrusher) poured out killer riffs and solos and bassist Jimmy Bell windmilled a breeze enough to feel it from in front of the stage, DeLeon held down the rhythm and the melody of material both old and new. Dusk is the band’s first full-length in 12 years, but the band and the songs sounded fresh and they put on a righteous show despite the fact that there weren’t too many people in the crowd to see it.

A chicken cheese steak was enjoyed in between sets — no onions — and I had plenty of time to eat, as Iron Man took their time getting going. Vocalist Joe Donnelly must have been running late, or else waiting outside to make his grand entrance, since he came in just before the set started. Bassist Louis Strachan and new drummer Mike Rix (who has about four more toms in his rack-mounted kit than he needs for doom) make for a killer rhythm section, and Donnelly‘s Ozzy-style antics are well documented and always good for a laugh, but the essential component in Iron Man is Al Morris III, whose sheer presence while he plays guitar makes the whole set. I managed to get video of the opener, “I Have Returned,” which you can see below. Watch his solo and you’ll see what I’m talking about. Amazing.

Iron Man played a new song as well. I didn’t catch the name of it, but it’s good to know they’re working on material for a follow-up to I Have Returned. They were selling the recent Shadow Kingdom reissues of Generation Void, Black Night and The Passage as well, though I don’t know how many people were there who didn’t already have them. They played an 11-song set, which seemed like a bit much, but although it’s three days later and my sleep pattern is still thrown off, I’m not going to say it wasn’t worth the time or effort to get to the show. It was all the more special because of the sparse attendance, and with Las Cruces having come so far, and Iron Man having made the trip from Maryland, it seemed the least I could do to show up. I guarantee whatever else was going on in town that night wasn’t as doomed out as this show was.

Adding to the argument in favor of attendance was not knowing when Las Cruces would be back this way. Iron Man is killer, don’t get me wrong, but I’ve already seen them this year and worse comes to worst, Maryland is only three hours away. San Antonio is a little farther out from Jersey, and since I enjoyed Dusk so much (even the tracks not about wizards of any shape or form), I wanted to be there to support the band. I don’t know if it did them any good in terms of getting gas money to get to the next show, but there you go. Should have been a couple local acts on the bill to round it out and fill up the place, should have been more people there, but it was a killer gig and easily justified the ride down. No complaints out of me.

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