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?):
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 Cursus Over the Top Kin of Ettins (DFW) King Earth
Saturday line up: Mos Generator (WA) Mala Suerte (Austin) Deguello Switchblade Jesus (Corpus) The Dirty Seeds (Houston) Orthodox Fuzz (DFW) Dead Hawke (DFW) Death’s Embrace
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
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 Deliverus 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 Crossingkind 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 Evelsounds 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.
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 Duskby 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
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.
Whether or not San Antonio stoner rockers Odeon took their name from the legendary venue in Hammersmith in London is a mystery, since their biographical information is minimal beyond the names of the parties involved, but if you’ve got a few minutes on this Wednesday afternoon — a cold, dismal one here in the valley — I’d like to introduce you to the warmth in this newcomer band’s guitar tone. The rig, as pictured on their MySpace page, where three songs are also available for listening — “Total Distance” being the most finished — is central to Odeon‘s attack, and guitarist Matt Brown has obviously worked for a while on his sound, so it’s worth singling out for attention.
The underlying Geezer Butler-style bass fills on “Total Distance” come courtesy of Larry Lichey, Jr., who also sings, and Daniel Manzi plays drums adding and capitalizing on the groove of the riff-led track with steady crash work and a driving build. It’s bedroom production, but I think you can still get a feel for what Odeon are doing, though the other two tracks “New” — which designates itself as vocal-less and unfinished — and “6381” are decidedly rougher. But even they rock a mid-paced groove, and that’s pretty much what it’s all about here.
It’s pretty clear they’re just starting out, but it’s good to know the simplistic, guitar-goes-first ethic is still inspiring drunken jam sessions even in this age of easy-access technical wizardry. Odeon aren’t going to change your life or your opinions on stoner rock, but if you’ve got the time, they’ve got a couple riffs to share and presumably more to come, so there’s no harm in checking them out — free of charge, this being the age of wonders that it is. And for anyone in or around San Antonio (where folks know what salsa should taste like), Odeon will be playing The 1011 on June 2 with The Grasshopper Lies Heavy. So there you go.
Posted in Reviews on March 10th, 2010 by JJ Koczan
As the follow-up to 1998’s Ringmaster, Dusk (Brainticket/Metal Rising), the 2009 offering from San Antonio, Texas, doom bashers Las Cruces, is something of a surprise. Mostly because, since the band more or less called it quits after self-releasing the The Lowest End EP in 2001, there was a good chance we’d have never heard from them again. If for no other reason than because two out of the first three tracks on Dusk have the word “wizard” in their title, that would have been a damn shame.
But not only is Dusk a long time coming in the sense of it being a long time since the band put out their last release, but considering they got back together in 2004 and recorded the album between 2006-2007, it’s been a while on that scale as well. We can only wonder what caused the probably numerous delays that held it back from seeing official release, but finally holding a finished copy of the record, Las Cruces don’t seem to have missed a beat.
Dusk is dudely riffer’s doom. Mark Zamarron, who sings lead vocals on the album (since out of the band) isn’t afraid to let a little classic metal misogyny fly, as “Banished” and “Cocaine Wizard Woman” will attest, but there are souls being burned, Christians being slaughtered and no shortage of blood being spilled otherwise, so I don’t think it’s something particularly against women — they’re just also on the list. If you’ve ever felt like you need a how-to guide for penning heavy metal lyrics, a quick perusal of the Dusk liner notes will do you well.