Posted in Whathaveyou on March 28th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Bringing with them the diverse bill of mystic doomers Blood Ceremony, cult psych heroes White Hills, and Atlanta-based instrumental spazzoids Lazer/Wulf, Savannah, Georgia’s Kylesa are starting what will most likely be a lengthy tour cycle in support of their new album, Ultraviolet. Expected May 28 on Season of Mist, Ultraviolet is Kylesa‘s first record of new material since 2010′s Spiral Shadow, which saw them greatly expand their melodic reach and progressive sensibilities.
As much as I’ve been looking forward to hearing the LP, Kylesa have always been an excellent live act, so it’ll be great to catch the Ultraviolet songs in-person as well. The PR wire has info and the rather considerable list of dates:
KYLESA ANNOUNCE SPRING TOUR
ULTRAVIOLET PRE-ORDERS AVAILABLE NOW
Kylesa kick off their first North American tour in support of Ultraviolet (May 28, Season of Mist) on May 10 in Gainesville, Fla. at the High Dive.
“It’s been a while since we’ve done a headlining tour in the US or Canada,” explained singer/guitar player Laura Pleasants, referring to the near two-year gap since the Savannah band’s last run. “We are looking forward to doing a proper tour supporting Ultraviolet. It will be good to see friends and fans (old and new) and hit these once familiar landscapes again. “
Spin premiered “Quicksand,” a new song from the 11-track album, earlier this week (http://www.spin.com/articles/kylesa-quicksand-ultraviolet-stream) describing the song “joins the melodies of ‘90s shoegaze with the churn of modern sludge.” Ultraviolet pre-orders are available now via Season of Mist’s e-shop (http://e-shop.season-of-mist.com/en/predefined-search/37879).
Tour dates: April 19 Savannah, GA The Dollhouse (Free show) May 10 Gainesville, FL High Dive May 11 Orlando, FL Backbooth May 12 Miami, FL Churchhill’s May 13 Tampa, FL The Orpheum May 15 New Orleans, LA One Eyed Jack’s May 16 Houston, TX Walters May 17 Dallas, TX Trees May 18 Austin, TX Mohawk May 20 Albuquerque, NM Blackwater May 21 Denver, CO Marquis Theater May 22 Salt Lake City, UT Urban Lounge May 24 Santa Cruz, CA Catalyst May 25 San Francisco, CA Slim’s May 27 Portland, OR Star Theater May 28 Seattle, WA Chop Suey May 29 Vancouver, BC Electric Owl May 31 Calgary, AB Dickens June 1 Regina, SK The Exchange June 2 Winnipeg, MB The Pyramid June 3 Minneapolis, MN Triple Rock Social Club June 4 Iowa City, IA Gabe’s Oasis June 5 Chicago, IL Bottom Lounge June 6 Grand Rapids, MI Pyramid Scheme June 7 St. Louis, MO The Firebird June 8 Columbus, OH Ace of Cups June 9 Lexington, KY Cosmic Charlies June 11 Toronto, ON Lee’s Palace June 12 Ottawa, ON Maverick’s June 13 Montreal, QC Il Motore June 14 Brooklyn NY Northside Fest (Music Hall of Williamsburg) June 15 Albany, NY Bogie’s June 16 Boston, MA Middle East Downstairs June 18 Philadelphia, PA Underground Arts June 19 Washington, DC Rock & Roll Hotel June 20 Asheville, NC Asheville Music Hall June 21 Atlanta, GA The Earl June 22 Savannah, GA The Jinx
Opening for Kylesa will be Blood Ceremony, White Hills and Lazer/Wulf. “I think the package will deliver the goods as well; a little mix in the stew for everyone who digs our sound,” commented Pleasants. Tickets are available next week.
Posted in Whathaveyou on March 25th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Some news you expect. On the other hand, some news is that Floor have signed to Season of Mist and are putting out a new record. It’s a pretty big difference. I already knew I was looking forward to seeing them on Friday in Brooklyn, but hearing there’s a new record in the works. I mean, shit man. Floor. Kind of hard to fuck with that.
Season of Mist is proud to announce the signing of the widely-respected underground rock band FLOOR.
FLOOR (Steve Brooks – Guitar, Vocals, Anthony Vialon – Guitar, Henry Wilson – drums) recently reunited on the heels of their career retrospective ‘Below and Beyond’ boxset, and are preparing to enter the studio for an imminent release.
FLOOR was originally formed by Brooks and Vialon in 1992, and issued singles on respected underground punks labels like No Idea, Bovine, Rhetoric and more. The band released their wildly influential self-titled full-length album in 2002, before splitting. Brooks went on to form another critically-acclaimed band: TORCHE, while Wilson formed DOVE.
Additionally, the reactivated band will hit the road for short run of dates before they enter the studio. The run will begin on May 27th in Charlotte, NC and conclude on April 10th in Birmingham, AL. Support on all dates comes from Joe Preston’s THRONES. A full list of dates can be found below:
FLOOR tour dates Mar 27 Charlotte, NC – Tremont Music Hall Mar 28 Washington DC – Rock and Roll Hotel Mar 29 Brooklyn, NY – Saint Vitus Mar 30 Providence, RI – AS220 Mar 31 Allston, MA – Great Scott Apr 1 Philadelphia, PA – The Barbary Apr 3 Cincinnati, OH – Taft Theatre Apr 4 Columbus, OH – Ace of Cups Apr 5 Cleveland Heights, OH – Grog Shop Apr 6 Grand Rapids, MI – The Pyramid Scheme Apr 7 Detroit, MI – Magic Stick Apr 8 Chicago, IL – Subterranean Apr 10 Birmingham, AL – Bottletree Cafe
Posted in Whathaveyou on February 26th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
This one should be interesting. It’s been three years since Savannah, Georgia, metallers Kylesa released Spiral Shadow (review here), their first album for Season of Mist and easily their most progressive outing to date, pushing their intricate, dually-drummed arrangements further than ever while also showing periodic affinity for a strong pop chorus. What will Ultraviolet bring three years later? As I haven’t yet had a second to check out the new track “Unspoken” via the link below, I haven’t the foggiest, but with this as the first word that the album is coming May 28, I’m excited to find out.
One thing about Kylesa records though is that no two are ever the same. Not knowing what to expect only makes it more fun.
The PR wire takes it from here:
Kylesa is set to release Ultraviolet, one of the most anticipated hard rock releases of the year and the follow-up to their critically-acclaimed album Spiral Shadow, on May 28 via Season of Mist (May 24 in Europe).
“Whereas Spiral Shadow was a warm album suggesting concepts of hope, Ultraviolet is a bit colder and darker,” explains songwriter/guitar player Laura Pleasants. “All of our studio albums have their own unique identity and we’ve always been a band who strives for something different than what current fads suggest. With Ultraviolet, we took a step inward and wrote music that we felt we had to write; this album centers around the multiple themes of loss and you can feel it in the music. Everyone goes through it during their lifetime and this record reflects that experience.”
The Savannah-based quintet recorded Ultraviolet at The Jam Room in Columbia, SC with the band’s guitar player/songwriter, and sought-after producer, Phillip Cope (Baroness, Black Tusk) once again overseeing production.
Kylesa released a rarities collection in November titled “From The Vaults, Vol. 1,” which featured unreleased, new and alternate versions of songs spanning the band’s catalogue as well as one new song titled “End Truth.” Cope and Pleasants spent over a year going through their archives preparing the release.
Kylesa will return to the road in May with more details forthcoming.
I don’t even know who to thank for this. Saint Vitus? Season of Mist? Tony Reed? Cthulhu? Everyone? Whoever it is, after a full night of self-abusive drinking (ongoing!) and despairing about my life situation and the wide array of terrible choices I’ve made in career, career and, well, career, to see something like this totally out of the blue doesn’t exactly make up for the tens of thousands of dollars I’ve lost by never getting a real job, but at least the name of this site is on the same jewel case as a Saint Fucking Vitus logo. I don’t know what size cookie I get for that, but I’m banking on it having both chocolate and peanut butter chips.
Posted in Reviews on September 26th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
Even before it started, Sept. 25 was more than one occasion. Principally, my eighth wedding anniversary. It was also the day Saint Fucking Vitus hit the bar that bears their name in Brooklyn, with Weedeater and Sourvein supporting. Saint Vitus at the Saint Vitus. And in the intertwining of these two events, I’ll say it will serve for years as an example of the long list of reasons I’m glad I’m married to The Patient Mrs. that the one did not preclude experiencing the other. Three bands — any one of whom on a given night I’d be happy to see as a headliner — in probably the smallest space at least Weedeater and Vitus will play this year. It was something special.
This week is also the U.N. General Assembly in Manhattan, and as I was anxiously waiting to depart and head to Brooklyn for the show, it was this foremost in my mind. All it takes is one diplomat deciding to go for a stroll down 34th St. and the Queens-Midtown Tunnel is pretty much inaccessible by car, so I made sure I had plenty of time to get to the Saint Vitus bar. Turned out I was early arriving, and at that point, things started to seem a little too easy. I’d made it there, made it there early, and I was about to watch Sourvein, Weedeater and Saint Vitus do a gig together about as far away from me as the keyboard on which I’m currently typing. I couldn’t help but look up to see if any pianos were about to fall on my head.
None did. And The Patient Mrs. was like, “you should go to this show,” and traffic was like, “you should go to this show,” and my brain was like, “dude I can’t fucking believe you’re going to this show,” and then I was at the show and then the show was happening and all threat of pianos was gone and everything that sucked was somewhere else and all the was was volume, riffs and fists in the air. Sourvein made a raucous opener, and the fact that since the last time I saw them vocalist T-Roy Medlin has surrounded himself with a new band — including former The Gates of Slumber drummer J. Clyde Paradis – only added to the sense of adventure.
Guitarist Joshua “JC” Fari – the band’s original bassist — donned a t-shirt with the logo for famed Manhattan venue the Limelight (the “rock ‘n’ roll church” as it once was) I guess to mark the evening, and bassist Todd Kiessling (Phobia/Dystopia) was of course locked in with Paradis on the band’s signature grooves. Hard to believe Sourvein will have existed in one form or another for 20 years in 2013, but if Medlin is the lone constant for all that time, he gave a good showing of why in Brooklyn. They weren’t through the opener for their set — the title-track to 2008′s Imperial BastardEP — before Medlin had jumped off the stage. Granted it was crowded up there, with Paradis’ drums set up in front of the kit Henry Vasquez would later use for Saint Vitus‘ set, but still, for having been the driving force in Sourvein for nigh on two full decades, Medlin‘s energy was commendable.
More to the point, their sludge was fucking vicious. It was fascinating to see Sourvein and Weedeater back to back because of how closely the bands are related. Not just by blood either — Medlin and Weedeater‘s “Dixie” Dave Collins are cousins — but in general ethic and punk rock fuckall, there’s a definite link. I can’t imagine either band is particularly fond of playing New York, but Sourvein hit hard with a closing duo of “Fangs” from last year’sBlack Fangs(review here) and “Dirty South” — their anthem — and split out in noisy fashion to a resounding reception from the growing crowd. It was early yet, just getting on 10PM, but the room was beginning to fill up.
I spent the vast majority of the night up front. Right up front, where someone of my size and stature really has no right to be. I didn’t want to miss taking pictures, yeah, but I didn’t want to miss the show, either, and I had memories of standing in the back bar as Pallbearer – the last too-big-for-the-room gig I saw at the Saint Vitus — doomed the living crap out of those in more immediate vicinity. So I stayed put in front of the stage, and as Weedeater got going by kicking into tracks from 2011′s Jason… the Dragon(review here) like “Hammerhandle,” “Mancoon” and “Turkey Warlock,” I was easily convinced I’d made the right choice.
Collins had a bottle of Evan Williams, drummer Keith “Keko” Kirkum and guitarist Dave Shepherd had PBR tallboys, so it was a party from the start. “Make noise,” was the bassist/vocalist’s urging to his bandmates before they started, and apparently they were listening. They kept the set mostly skewed to Jason… the Dragonand 2007′s God Luck and Good Speed, the volume giving no quarter behind him as Collins let loose his nastier-than-all rasp. Kicking his leg behind him, contorting to a wide array of faces, leaning on the wall and sitting on his amp case before getting up for another round, kneeling to play, drinking both from his bourbon and a bottle of what I could only assume was cough medicine taped to the side of his speaker cabinet — before they went on, he tried out two straws and clearly favored the longer — Collins was, as ever, a more entertaining frontman than the unfriendliness of Weedeater‘s music might initially have you believe. “I hope you fucking hate this song so much you cry from it,” he said at one point. To the best of my knowledge, nobody cried.
They wrapped with a full-lung toke off of “Weed Monkey” from God Luck and Good Speed, which was preceded by the Lynyrd Skynyrd cover, “Gimme back My Bullets” that appeared on the same album. Someone clever soul in the crowd shouted “Play some Skynyrd!” when they finished, to which Collins — fully absorbed in a stage process I don’t think anyone but him really understands — replied with a quick “we already did,” as though the words were bullets bouncing off him. There are very few bands who could follow Weedeater and hope to stand a chance of not having been blown off the stage. For this too, it was lucky that Saint Vitus were up next.
If one can say such a thing about a doom legend, Vitus guitarist and principle songwriter Dave Chandler seemed positively tickled to be playing a venue with the same name as his band. Both he and vocalist Scott “Wino” Weinrich thanked the bar several times, Wino noting that it was a dream come true for the owners and the band both. After setting up their gear — subdued bassist Mark Adams drinking a Budweiser while his rig was assembled — they very quickly hit some feedback and launched into “Blessed Night” from this year’s Lillie: F-65(review here), the first song they wrote since embarking on this reunion in 2009.
Since then, I’ve seen Vitus four times that I can think of off the top of my head — Roadburn ’09, Brooklyn, Metalliance and last night; I might be missing one — and I may just have run out of appropriate hyperbole to convey the experience. I’ll argue tooth and nail that Saint Vitus are the single most important doom act America has ever produced, but more than that, they’re stripped down in a way no one else can quite manage to be. Seeing them live, it’s way less of a mystery to see why Black Flag‘s Greg Ginn recruited them for SST Records all those years ago in their initial run: they were basically doing the same thing Black Flag were doing, only they ran their brand of punk through a heady filter of Sabbath.
The government unfortunately doesn’t have a medal to give Chandler‘s guitar tone — though it should — but the guitarist roughed it out anyway, and I held my position up front for the first half of the Saint Vitus @ Saint Vitus set, Vasquez crashing out blood and thunder under the classic heft of the riffs while Wino seethed out the proto-drone of “I Bleed Black” and belted the more raging “War is Our Destiny.” They played all of Lillie: F-65save for the acoustic interlude “Vertigo” and the feedbacker finale track “Withdrawal” — not that the set was at all lacking feedback — stacking them into the earlier portion of the show to finish up with the likes of “The Troll,” “Mystic Lady,” “Clear Windowpane,” “Saint Vitus,” and the inevitable closer, “Born too Late,” which Chandler – representing the old school even down to his EC F’N W t-shirt — shouted out to the crowd after Wino jokingly asked when the audience was born. “What? ’86?” he laughed, no doubt remembering that was the year the album Born too Latewas released.
By then, I had moved to the back, and I feel like it’s worth mentioning why I did so. There had been some moshing during Weedeater, and I stuck that out well enough — took a couple shots to the back that have me sore today, etc., but ultimately survived and found it well worth the effort to do so — but when Saint Vitus got started, and as they really dug into the meat of their set, it was almost overwhelming. Not the crowd, or the push toward the stage, but just the whole thing. I mean, they were. Right. There. Even in the photo pit at Irving Plaza, I hadn’t been that close. After being up there all night, I probably could’ve stuck it out — and when they played “Saint Vitus,” I kicked myself for not — but I guess the bottom line of it was I felt like I wasn’t worthy of what I was witnessing, and after snapping off a quick 850 photos (yes, that’s a lot), I took a couple steps back, eventually winding up over by the soundboard in the back on the lefthand side of the room. I’ve seen a lot of shows in that spot at this point, and as Vitus said their last thanks and jammed out a noisy end — Chandler taking a page out of Medlin‘s book and jumping off the stage to solo in the crowd for a while — I felt lucky to be there at all, lucky to be alive, and where I was standing became at best a tertiary concern.
In the review he posted last night on the forum, SabbathJeff began with the line “Whoa, what just happened?” I was pretty sure of my surroundings when the show was over, but I’ll be damned if everything — up to and including the traffic on the other side of the Lincoln Tunnel — didn’t look just a little extra awesome for what I’d just seen. I got back to the humble Rockaway River valley a little bit before 2AM, inhaled some late-night pasta, said goodnight to my wife and crashed in anticipation of a rough alarm this morning. And today hasn’t exactly been the most productive day I’ve ever had, but if you think I’m about to start bitching the day after seeing Saint Vitus so close up I thought Wino was going to punch me in the face, there’s a good chance you’ve missed the point.
An amazing night the likes of which are rare. Thanks to The Patient Mrs. for eight years of wedded understanding and acceptance, and to you for reading.
Posted in Whathaveyou on August 28th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
I don’t know about you, but for me, the news that Savannah, Georgia, progressive sludgers Kylesa will release a new collection called From the Vaults Vol. 1 begs more questions than it answers. I mean, I didn’t know Kylesa had vaults. How many vaults do they have? Are they man-sized like Dick Cheney‘s was? What do they keep in them? Are they room temperature or refrigerated?
While we wait for the answers to those questions and one or two others, here’s this from the PR wire:
Kylesa Rarities Collection, From The Vaults, Vol. 1, Set For Nov. 20 Release Via Season Of Mist
Twelve-Song Release Features One New Song, Previously Unreleased And Alternate Versions Of Songs From Band’s Catalogue
Kylesa is set to release From The Vaults, Vol. 1, a twelve-song collection featuring unreleased, new and alternate versions of songs spanning their catalogue including one entirely new song (“End Truth“) as well as the band’s legendary cover of Pink Floyd’s “Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun” on Nov. 20 (Nov. 16 in Europe).
“This project has been a labor of love,” explained guitarist/singer/producer Phillip Cope. “We have spent over a year going through old songs, covers, etc. and collected those we felt went well together; remixing and finishing them up. We didn’t want to release something just thrown together so we put a lot of thought and time into it. I am really happy about how this came together. I think it is a good representation of Kylesa’s different styles from early on to present day.”
The Savannah-based band recently wrapped up a European tour, which included stops at the Wacken Open Air and Area 4 Festivals, and will enter the studio to begin work on a new album for 2013. Kylesa’s most recent release, 2010′s Spiral Shadow, was revered by fans and critics alike as a “record that trashes everything you might expect from the genre” (Pitchfork) and is “as sweaty as a south Georgia summer” (Spin). Singer/guitarist Laura Pleasants was recently featured on the cover of Decibel Magazine‘s inaugural Women in Metal issue.
From The Vaults, Vol. 1 track listing: 1. Intro ** 2. Inverse ** 3. 111 Degree Heat Index *** 4. Between Silence and Sound II *** 5. Paranoid Tempo ** 6. End Truth * 7. Bottom Line II *** 8. Wavering ** 9. Bass Salts ** 10. Drained ** 11. Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun ** 12. Drum Jam **
* New ** Previously unreleased/limited availability *** Alternate Version
Posted in Features on April 27th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
There are few figures as directly and personally responsible for the growth and progression of American doom metal as Dave Chandler. The guitarist and founding songwriter of Saint Vitus, Chandler‘s primordial riffing and unmistakable tone have endured for the better part of 30 years, and where fads and trends have come and gone around them, Vitus‘ music has existed almost in a vacuum of its own making. No one since has been able to capture the same kind of magic, and plenty have tried.
A European tour in 2009 that included a Roadburn stop brought back together the Vitus lineup that in 1986 released one of doom’s all-time most pivotal anthems, Born too Late. Alongside Chandler once more were bassist Mark Adams, vocalist Scott “Wino” Weinrich and drummer Armando Acosta, and though this same group had reunited in 2003 for a show in Chicago that subsequently was released on DVD, it was clear from the outset that in the intervening six years, something in the climate of the heavy metal underground had changed. It seemed right away that this time it might stick.
Certainly the interest was there on the part of fans and the band. Acosta bowed out following the 2009 touring on account of ailing health that would eventually take his life in November 2010. He was replaced by Henry Vasquez, who’d played with Chandler in Debris Inc., and as a major draw on earlier 2010′s inaugural Metalliance tour with Helmet, Crowbar, Kylesa, Red Fang and others, Saint Vitus not only proved that their doom had not diminished with age, but that it was perhaps the most vital and relevant it had ever been. Fueled by live performances of a song called “Blessed Night,” rumors began to swirl of a new studio album, and with the forthcoming May 22 release of Lillie: F-65 (review here) on new label Season of Mist, Saint Vitus will have their first set of new material since 1995′s Die Healing, long thought of as the swansong of one of metal’s most criminally underappreciated bands.
Recorded by Stone Axe, Mos Generator and HeavyPink multi-instrumentalist Tony Reed — who spoke about the studio process back in December — Lillie: F-65 plays out like a half-hour lesson in uncompromising. The seven component tracks are a pastiche of miseries that capture not only the classic Vitus tones, but also the mindset that drove the music in the first place. It’s a triumph for the band and the genre alike — just having Vitus back qualifies as such, let alone the fact that the record’s actually good — and Chandler excellently taps the vein of what made his earliest work so landmark without sounding like he’s trying to rehash former glories or doing an impression of someone he used to be.
In the interview that follows, Chandler discusses writing for Saint Vitus for the first time in more than a decade, what went into making the album, the band’s era on Greg Ginn of Black Flag‘s SST imprint in the ’80s, getting back into the touring lifestyle, living in New Orleans as he has for several years now, and much, much more. As he ended our last interview by exploring the possibility of a new record and saying, “I wouldn’t want to be one of those bands who has 50 retirement tours,” in Spring 2012, it seems like Saint Vitus are just getting started.
The complete 3,800-word Q&A is after the jump. Please enjoy.
If you’re going to pick a single from Saint Vitus‘ forthcoming Lillie: F-65 — their first new studio album in 17 years; review here — you can’t go wrong with opener “Let Them Fall.” In the tradition of landmark Vitus album-starters “Born too Late” and their eponymous cut from the 1984 album that shared its (and their) name, “Let Them Fall” is anthemic in its misery. The song force-feeds you its pace, and it’s a great setup for what the rest of Lillie: F-65 has to offer, which even when it gets faster or slower, has no mercy when it comes to depressive weight.
The clip for “Let Them Fall” premiered yesterday, and I put it in the news forum as well, but I thought it warranted Wino Wednesday reiteration, not the least because Wino‘s vocals sound so killer atop those Dave Chandler riffs. Look for an interview in the coming weeks with Chandler in which he talks about — among other things — the fact that the band are all spread out geographically. I assume that’s the reason neither he, nor Wino, bassist Mark Adams, nor drummer Henry Vasquez actually appear in the clip. Fair enough. For a lot of people it’s still the first new audio they’re hearing from Lillie: F-65, so even if you don’t get the band playing along, it’s a pretty momentous occasion.
I’d love to know your thoughts on the song if you have any, and either way, thanks for reading and listening and all that good stuff.
Posted in Reviews on March 26th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
Awkward and obscure as the name is, guitarist Dave Chandler did right in naming Saint Vitus’ first album in 17 years Lillie: F-65. The title refers to a barbiturate the band used to take, and in many ways, that’s just what Lillie: F-65 is: A classic Saint Vitus downer. One might compare the situation that brought it about to Pentagram and their 2011 release, Last Rites. I’m not sure if there’s as much at stake personally for any one member of Vitus as there was for Pentagram frontman Bobby Liebling in that record, but in terms of pivotal American doom acts pitting their legacies against studio offerings that marked new eras, it seems a fair analogy despite a few key differences. Saint Vitus are arguably the single most important and influential band in American doom – certainly on the West Coast – and Lillie: F-65 (released by Season of Mist) renews the recording partnership of Chandler and vocalist Scott “Wino” Weinrich. The two exceedingly charismatic personalities have intermittently torn down stages the world over for the better part of the last three years, and together with bassist Mark Adams and drummer Henry Vasquez – who replaced a then-ailing Armando Acosta (R.I.P.) in 2009 – the 2012 lineup of Saint Vitus stands ready to honor both its own legend and the influence that inspired the band in the first place. Several of Lillie: F-65’s successes come in doing just that.
Chandler, as the principle songwriter of this and all Vitus material, wastes no time tapping into the primordial immediacy that made the band’s earliest work so powerful. Some of these lines, some of these riffs are so easy as to be obvious, and yet they are characteristically Chandlerian, and the more one listens to Lillie: F-65 – or any Vitus album, for that matter (how easily the new one fits in the lexicon of the band should say something as to its quality) – the more one can discern the blueprint behind the songs. Structurally, they are as they’ve always been: Simple, high-grade pop put to nefarious use. His vocals mostly following Chandler’s riffs, Weinrich nonetheless makes a landmark of nearly every chorus – to wit, “Let Them Fall,” “The Bleeding Ground” and “Blessed Night” – and delivers lines with feeling and drama worthy of any performance in his storied discography. For his part, Adams is in the Geezer Butler role – appropriate, considering how much of Vitus has always been derived from Sabbath – quietly, unassumingly turning good songs, like the above or the side B duo “The Waste of Time” and “Dependence,” into great ones with warm low end that’s both classy and rudimentary. I’ll say flat-out that he sounds the best on these tracks that he’s ever sounded in Saint Vitus, and part of that credit has to go to producer/engineer T. Dallas Reed, who positions him mix-wise so as to fill out the songs and highlight the character in his playing without stealing the spotlight from Chandler’s guitar, which without question is running the show.
That’s one of the things Saint Vitus has very much done right on Lillie: F-65. Another relates specifically to Vasquez’s drumming. Anyone who’s heard his work in Blood of the Sun can tell you the dude can throw down in true classic rock style. Indeed, that’s most of what Blood of the Sun (in which he also handles vocals) does. But that’s not what he does here. Adapting his style to the simplicity of the songwriting, Vasquez honors Acosta’s contributions to the band while maintaining a personality of his own. He does not indulge in long fills. He does not unleash double kick for its own sake. Instead, he hits remarkably hard and shows that he has obviously become an integrated part of the band over the last three years of time on the road. Along those same lines, Saint Vitus also plays it smart in keeping Lillie: F-65 short. Their 1984 self-titled debut was 35 minutes long, 1985’s Hallow’s Victim 34 and 1986’s Born too Late (their first album with Weinrich on vocals) also 35. Lillie: F-65 is a bullshit-free 34:29, right in line. The closest they come to any kind of indulgence is a Weinrich-penned acoustic interlude called “Vertigo” that comes between “The Bleeding Ground” and “Blessed Night,” and even that serves the purpose of allowing a few minutes of breath between those two landmark cuts and adding to the overall depressive atmosphere the album creates. One could argue closer “Withdrawal” – which is three and a half minutes solid of Chandler’s guitar feedback – is an indulgence, but I think that’s missing the point, since the track’s pretty much as close as Vitus is ever going to come to saying to their fans, “Hey, thanks for buying our record, here’s the fucked-up mess of noise you came for.” And you know, he’s right.
Half an hour before that, though, it’s Vasquez who has the honor of starting the first Vitus record since 1995’s Die Healing reunited them with original singer Scott Reagers, and he does so with a fittingly unceremonious bass-drum/crash cymbal count-in. Four hits and “Let Them Fall” is underway, and as if that wasn’t up-front enough, the song begins with its chorus:
“Why do I scream at them
They never listen
Why do I beat my head
Against the wall
I made a simple plan
They complicate it
Now they’re near the edge
Let them fall”
From the mere shape of the lines, one can almost discern the lumbering rhythm with which Weinrich delivers them; the ebb and flow – or better, rise and fall – of Chandler’s much-imitated patterning allowing for almost as little hope to peak through as the lyrics themselves. While Vasquez keeps time on his crash and Adams supplements the riff with deep, swarming low-end, Weinrich adopts the voice of god – or whatever omnipotent creator force you want to substitute for god, mother nature, etc. – giving up on humanity. Want to start a doom album, kids? That’s a pretty good way to do it. The song itself is strong enough and enough in line with classic Vitus anthems that it could’ve easily carried the record as a title-track – a move that would’ve aligned it to tracks from the band’s discography like “Saint Vitus” from Saint Vitus, “Born too Late” from that album or “Children of Doom” from 1992’s C.O.D. – but either way, it’s an immediate hook that sets the course for the rest of the album’s songs. It’s the shortest of the non-interludes or outros, but of undeniable substance and memorability. Plodding, miserable, and gloriously primal – it’s the best-case scenario for what Vitus could do on Lillie: F-65.
Posted in audiObelisk on November 1st, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster
Since the 1994 release of their now-classic full-length debut, Epistemological Despondency, formidable UK outfit Esoteric have never given any ground or sacrificed any of their forward-thinking, avant garde approach. Their albums — all but two of the total six are double-CDs — are massive, expansive slabs of divergent doom. They may hail from the home of the genre in Birmingham, but the only tradition Esoteric have ever adhered to is their own tradition of innovation.
Long established as an influential and guiding act for others who would be of their ilk, Esoteric return this month with their third outing for Season of Mist. Titled Paragon of Dissonance, the name could easily be extrapolated into a statement of intent on the part of the five-piece. Led by guitarist, vocalist and sole founding member Greg Chandler, the seven-song/94-minute collection not only renews Esoteric‘s spirit of willful progress, but continues their push into creative discomfort. On the verge of marking 20 years as a band in 2012, Chandler and Esoteric still refuse complacency at every turn.
And one thing about those turns: They are s-l-o-w. As much as Esoteric have maintained this musically adventurous spirit while skillfully weaving dirge melodies into oppressive, drawn-out doom, they’ve always taken their time doing it, and Paragon of Dissonance is no exception. To wit, the second-disc closer “Torrent of Ills,” unrepentantly tops 17 minutes.
In that time, Esoteric lurch their way through vivid atmospheres of wretched depression, never quite losing the sense of what also makes the bleak beautiful — at least until the destructive noise of the last several minutes rises to engulf the song, the album and seemingly everything else in its path. “Torrent of Ills” is an abyss to get lost in, and Season of Mist was kind enough to let me stream it for one week only on the player below. Hope you enjoy:
Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!
Paragon of Dissonance is out Nov. 11 in Europe, Nov. 15 in North America on Season of Mist. More info can be found through the label’s site or the band’s page.
Posted in Reviews on March 28th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster
I don’t remember the last time I looked forward to a tour the way I looked forward to the Irving Plaza, NYC, stop of Metalliance. Usually, I’ll get down with a couple bands on a bill, maybe even three or four on a great night, but this lineup was insane. Helmet playing Meantime, Crowbar, Saint Vitus, Kylesa, Red Fang, Howl and The Atlas Moth. Even the bands I was ambivalent about seeing I wanted to see. It’s been a while since that was the case for a single show.
The difference, I suppose, is that Metalliance is essentially a traveling festival. That means shorter sets — 20 minutes each for The Atlas Moth, Howl and Red Fang, then gradually more for Kylesa, Vitus, Crowbar and Helmet — but still, the thought of seeing this many bands on one bill made the show an absolute must. It’s been on my calendar for months. Whatever else happens, Metalliance.
There was a meet and greet before doors and I was invited for that, so I went and chatted awkwardly for a couple minutes with the bands, mostly the dudes in Red Fang about bassist/vocalist Bryan Giles‘ recent interview, but also got my picture taken with Wino, which was cool despite the lengths at which I’ll protest about hating that kind of thing (both having my picture taken and my picture taken with dudes in bands). The conversation steadily fizzled and everyone, myself included, went about their business. I grabbed the first of the evening’s several $8 Guinnesses, made my way upstairs to stake out a spot. It’s Irving Plaza instinct. I’ve seen more shows from that balcony than I can remember to count.
It was early, though. The Atlas Moth didn’t go on for maybe another 20 minutes, and the place was still basically empty, so the beer went fast. When they took the stage, I went downstairs to take the first of the evening’s many, many photos, and check out their set. I had been served a digital promo of their Candlelight Records debut, A Glorified Piece of Blue Sky, when it came out, but it must have slipped through the cracks. They were post-metal, and apparently down one of their three guitarists, but not terrible. They said from the stage that they’ll have a new album out in the fall. Maybe I won’t have my head up my ass about it this time. No promises, but it could happen.
If I’m not much familiar with The Atlas Moth, I’m a little more directly “take it or leave it” on Howl. The Rhode Islanders don’t really do it for me musically, but even they put on a good show, and I heard from several showgoers over the course of the night how much they enjoyed their set. They were heavier than I recalled them being, but just tipped to the far side of the doom/metal equation, and watching them made me feel old. Think I’d be used to that by now.
Part of my “meh” factor for Howl‘s set might also have stemmed from anticipation for Red Fang. Having never seen them before and so thoroughly dorked out over their forthcoming Murder the MountainsRelapse debut (second full-length overall), I was more or less dying to see their set. They opened with a couple tracks from their self-titled, and hit the new single “Wires” before closing with “Prehistoric Dog.” I felt justified in my excitement by their performance, as they more or less ripped through the material — not in the sense of rushing it — just making it all sound meatier and meaner. They were the first of the night’s several killer acts.
As I mentioned, with Kylesa, the set-times began to lengthen, but even a half-hour of stuff from them seemed short. Bathed half in darkness by the projected art of their Spiral Shadow album, the dually-drummed five-piece were also much heavier than the production on their record might lead you to believe. “Running Red,” from 2009′s Static Tensions, was a particularly welcome inclusion, and though the vocals were high in the mix, everything still came through well enough.
With the double-guitar/double-vocals of Laura Pleasants and Philip Cope, it’s probably really easy for some of Kylesa‘s complexity to become a wash in a live setting (I’ve seen them before but not yet on this touring cycle owing to January’s ridiculous snowfall) depending on who’s working the sound. I think they got a decent treatment at Irving Plaza and was glad to get the chance to have “Don’t Look Back” from Spiral Shadow injected straight into my head from the amps as opposed to the CD. I also got a new appreciation for bassist Corey Barhorst, who I think is a much bigger part of what makes Kylesa so damn heavy than anyone gives him credit for, myself included. I know they tour like bastards, but I was glad to see them this time around, especially after enjoying the album so much.
What can I possibly say about Saint Vitus? I felt like life was doing me a personal favor by their reuniting at Roadburn 2009, and I’ve seen them twice now since then, and I feel the same way. “Dying Inside,” “Born too Late,” “Clear Windowpane” — they were all fucking fantastic. The only challenge I had was trying to decide which I was most into (I finally settled on “Dying Inside”), but the whole set was earth-shakingly heavy. I don’t know how Crowbar felt about having to follow them, let alone Helmet, but I know I certainly wouldn’t want to. They also played the new song “Blessed Night” from the impending whatever-they’ll-put-out, and it was even better in-person than on the YouberTubes clips of it I’ve seen.
I’ve done plenty of worshiping at the altar of Saint Vitus before, but it’s worth noting that even just in terms of the chemistry between the members of the band, they’ve got it down. Even since I saw this lineup — Scott “Wino” Weinrich, vocals; Dave Chandler, guitar; Mark Adams, bass; Henry Vasquez, drums — in Brooklyn late in 2009, their time on the road has made them tighter as a group, and the songs sounded all the more killer for it. Vasquez, who came aboard as a replacement for founding drummer Armando Acosta owing to the latter’s failing health (Acosta died last Thanksgiving), does an excellent job driving the material, and watching Adams, Chandler and Weinrich on stage is like calculating a geometrical proof to discover why the word “legendary” so often appears directly before the band’s name.
If they’d been the only band of the night, I still would have made the trip into the city for the show, but to then have Crowbar follow them was when things really got surreal at Metalliance. It’s like one of those “But wait — there’s more!” infomercials, except that instead of useless, easily-broken shit you get high-grade metal. Crowbar were in sludgy fashion, and the guitar sound, which I bemoaned after their set at the Championship Bar and Grill in Trenton this past December, was much improved coming through the Irving Plaza P.A. They ran through a smattering of the highlight cuts from their career, offering a post-”Planets Collide” mini-encore in the form of latest single “The Cemetery Angels,” from their first album in six years, Sever the Wicked Hand.
It was interesting to compare the Saint Vitus and Crowbar sets in that the two long-running (admittedly Vitus longer running than Crowbar) acts have very different stage presences. Crowbar guitarist Kirk Windstein is clearly the star of the show. It’s his band all the way through, he’s the last of the founding members, the only songwriter and not to disparage the contributions of his band, because they sounded good, but you could probably have any number of musicians up there filling those roles. In terms of presence, Chandler is one of two very strong focal points in Saint Vitus, the other being Wino. Bassist Mark Adams, while a founding member of the band, is overshadowed personality-wise by the guitarist, and from the look of it this past Friday, that suits him just fine, but still, Saint Vitus — even apart from the aura their decades of influence carries with it — are more of a total band experience, where with Crowbar, it’s Windstein‘s gig and everyone knows it.
What that rounds out to, at least as regards Metalliance, is two unmistakable, diverging roads leading to a killer set. The place cleared out a lot after Crowbar with Helmet still to go, but those who stayed were ultimately rewarded for their effort. The truly unfortunate thing about Helmet is how their dissonance got bastardized in the later part of the ’90s by the nü-metal movement. That’s not to say their own burgeoning commerciality didn’t have a role to play, but the sound they became known for fostering wasn’t necessarily the way they actually played. As Meantime nears its 20th anniversary (originally released June 23, 1992) and Helmet has become a more melodically-centered band — the staccato riffing of guitarist/vocalist Page Hamilton taking a back seat — the songs themselves remains eerily relevant.
Hamilton is without a doubt the central figure, though, even more so than Windstein is to Crowbar. Though he’s had roughly the same band with him since 2006, Helmet is his band. All the same, their rendition of the Meantime album was welcomed by those who stuck around to see it, and an appropriate salvo to the evening’s unbelievable gait. When I left, it wasn’t yet 11PM, but I was already dead tired. Six hours of show will do that to you.
Feels redundant to even say it, but if Metalliance hasn’t hit where you are yet, you need to cancel whatever it is on your plate and go. As I noted previously, I took over 2,100 photos at the show, and most of them were crap. About 280 weren’t, and if you want a small sampling of that batch, click the “Read More” link below. Special thanks to Steve Seabury for making the night happen.
Posted in Features on January 20th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster
It’s been almost two full years since I last interviewed guitarist/vocalist Laura Pleasants of Kylesa, and in that time the growth her band has undertaken is remarkable. Their latest album, Spiral Shadow (first for Season of Mist and fifth overall), is a progressive leap from anything the band has done before, Pleasants and fellow guitarist/vocalist Phillip Cope — who also produced — in particular focusing on writing memorable songs with an increased emphasis on melody.
The result of their efforts can be heard in tracks like “Tired Climb” or the unrepentantly hooky “Don’t Look Back,” which not only show a newfound maturity from Cope and Pleasants, but an increase in the chemistry between them as a team and the double-drum rhythm section of Carl McGinley, Tyler Newberry and bassist Corey Barhorst. Like its 2009 predecessor, Static Tensions, Spiral Shadow was a highlight of its release year. Hands down one of the least regrettable new-album purchases I made in 2010.
Whatever growth or breadth of influence they show, however, what remains consistent about Kylesa is a fierce will for exploration. They don’t follow the trend in modern metal, they help set it; their post-sludge breathing new life into a genre which often wills itself against sonic diversity. Coupled with the kind of songwriting prowess they show on “Spiral Shadow” and “Distance Closing In,” Spiral Shadow could easily be the marking point of a new stage in an already impressive career.
I’m getting ahead of myself. Just two days after the New Year, Pleasants checked in for a phoner to discuss the metamorphosis of Kylesa, the band’s recent tours with Clutch and Torche/High on Fire, and the working relationship of the band in the studio with Cope at the helm. Like last time, it was more of a conversation than a Q&A, but that’s nonetheless how it’s presented here.
Unabridged interview is after the jump. Please enjoy.
Posted in Features on December 15th, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster
Kylesa‘s first album for Season of Mist, Spiral Shadow became something of a lesson about life in the age of digital promos. In my review of the album, I raved about the genius of the 10-plus-minute title-track. Extensively. When I finally bought the record to include it in the Southcast, I found the title track to be half as long. I still don’t know what the story was, if they edited the song down, if there was some fluke in my mp3s or what. The songs on the physical product were also in a completely different order.
The result is I’m not sure which version of Spiral Shadow I like better, but suffice it to say both kick considerable ass. Hearing Kylesa embrace their inner prog was a high point of 2010 for sure, and between cuts like the aforementioned “Spiral Shadow” (still pretty good at 5:12), the stomping “Drop Out” and the viciously catchy “Don’t Look Back” — which is probably one of my favorite single songs of the year — there was just about no way Kylesa wasn’t going to make the top 10.
They’ve established a very solid chain of consistency between Spiral Shadow and last year’s Static Tensions, and with all the touring they’re doing (winter 2011 dates have been announced), they can only add to the momentum. Kylesa has never really had a steady lineup, but with the creative core of guitarist/vocalist/producer Phillip Cope, guitarist/vocalist Laura Pleasants and a duo of drummers, they nonetheless crafted one of 2010′s best albums in Spiral Shadow.
It’s an odd thing that’s happened over the course of the last couple years with the surge of blogs replacing print publications, but you have people (myself included) lining up to be the first place listeners can go to hear/view/download whatever. It’s interesting, like the White House press corps being too afraid to criticize George W. Bush in his first term for fear of losing access. I don’t know if it helps establish a critical aesthetic for these websites, but I find it fascinating nonetheless.
There’s an odd egalitarianism too it as well, though, because while anyone can be “the first” to post something and it’s their name that goes out in the press release, five minutes later, everyone else has it. To wit, the following Kylesa video for the track “Tired Climb” from their Spiral Shadow album. Stereogum got the premiere, got their name out there, got the hits, and here we are, with it posted below. Strange days we live in, my friends. Strange indeed.
Posted in Reviews on September 3rd, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster
Sometimes I think bands just use changing record labels as an excuse to screw with their own sound. Certainly Savannah, Georgia, sludge-bringers Kylesa have grown over the course of their four prior studio offerings, but with the latest, Spiral Shadow (their first for Season of Mist), they push their approach into new territory in terms of how it touches on both prog and pop, and come out sounding easily the tightest they ever have, but also the most melodically capable and farthest ranging.
It should say something that in a band with two drummers the guitars still dominate, but that’s the case with Spiral Shadow. By now it goes without saying that guitarist/vocalist Phillip Cope did an outstanding job with the production – his prowess in that area is well-documented and one can chart his growth as an engineer/producer over the course of Kylesa’s career – but on Spiral Shadow he seems to have smoothed out the band’s sound some. You can hear it in the tones of opener “Tired Climb,” or in the mixing of the ringing notes that mark the intro to second track, “Cheating Synergy.” Of course, the rhythm section of bassist Corey Barhorst and drummers Tyler Newberry and Carl McGinely is still essential to what Kylesa does, but Spiral Shadow’s focus seems just as much on bringing forward the five-piece’s instrumental and vocal melodicism as on pummeling with sludge or surprising with quick percussive turns.
Guitarist/vocalist Laura Pleasants made a breakthrough on Kylesa’s last album, 2009’s Static Tensions (their final album on Prosthetic Records), and here she refines and redefines her role in the band. Her interplay with Cope, as on “Drop Out” – which also features some of Spiral Shadow’s best performances from McGinely and Newberry – makes that track among the record’s strongest, but it’s on songs like the poppier “Don’t Look Back,” where Kylesa approaches Torche-like accessibility, and “To Forget” that she really demonstrates how much she’s come into her own in terms of clean singing. It’s strange to think of Kylesa as a band with a frontperson of any kind, since up to this point it’s always been about the group’s performance as a whole, but to call Pleasants’ work on Spiral Shadow anything less than standout is to undersell it.