The Top 15 of the First Half of 2014

Posted in Features on June 23rd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

top 15 of the first half of 2014

It’s custom around here to do a Top 10 of the First Half of the Year, in advance of doing a Top 20 of the Year in December. The idea is that the later list will basically build on the earlier one. That’s never really how it works out — albums always drop off or appear unexpectedly depending on what gets listened to most, what gets reviewed late, etc. — but it always works out to be a good time anyway, and that’s really what it’s all about.

The difference this year is that instead of doing a Top 20 in December, I’m planning on expanding to a full Top 30, so to do a Top 10 of the stuff from January until now makes less sense. So here we are with a Top 15. A slightly longer list, but still the same basic idea as years past otherwise. These are albums I’m expecting will turn up again at the end of the year on the final Top 30, and though some will and some won’t and almost all of them will move around, there are more than a handful — particularly if we’re counting by fingers — of essential records released over the last six months recounted here.

If you missed something, I hope it’s something cool you get to check out, and if I missed something (as I inevitably did), I hope you’ll let me know in the comments. Please note that this is full albums only, no EPs, splits, singles or demos.

Enjoy:

 

15. Greenleaf, Trails and Passes

Mr. Von Wieding outdoes himself yet again with the art.

Released by Small Stone. Reviewed April 25.

I’ll freely admit I was more than a little thrown off by the change in approach on Greenleaf‘s fifth album. Where prior outings like 2012′s Nest of Vipers (review here) and 2007′s megatriumph Agents of Ahriman had been lush heavy rock affairs helmed by Dozer guitarist Tommi Holappa with a slew of guests on vocals, organ, etc., Trails and Passes dialed back the “extras” in favor of a more stripped down, stage-ready approach. Holappa‘s songwriting alone would likely be enough to have Greenleaf on this list one way or another, and Trails and Passes is one of the year’s best. The turn was just unexpected and I feel like I’m not caught up to it yet.

 

14. Druglord, Enter Venus

Awesome.

Released by STB Records. Reviewed Feb. 14.

Initially put out in a limited tape run in late 2013 (review here), the Enter Venus full-length from Richmond-based sludgers Druglord codified the noisy murk of their prior outings into one devastating wave of lurching riffage and echoing shouts. The Virginian three-piece recorded with Garrett Morris of Windhand and the STB vinyl topped off with artwork by W. Ralph Walters, making for a package both visually and sonically devastating, and though it’s short for an album at under a half-hour, the 12″ still earns the nod for the unmitigated heft its four songs carry. It’s one you can either dig or miss out, but Druglord show there’s more room for invention in sludge.

 

13. Wovenhand, Refractory Obdurate

Patches.

Released by Deathwish Inc. Reviewed May 15.

There really isn’t much left to say when it comes to Wovenhand and their driving force, frontman David Eugene Edwards. Their first for Deathwish Inc., Refractory Obdurate is the latest document of one of this generation’s most accomplished songwriting progressions. It follows a brilliant record in 2012′s The Laughing Stalk (review here) and likely precedes one in whatever they decide to do next, and the enduring fascination on Edwards‘ part with tonal weight and groove continues to push Wovenhand into a creative territory that is without genre. Nobody else comes close.

 

12. Papir, IIII

Lines.

Released by El Paraiso Records. Reviewed Jan. 24.

Quick-working Danish jammers Papir made a strong impression with IIII early in the year, offering a progressive take on the style of heavy instrumental jamming that has flourished throughout Europe over the last half-decade or so. Immediately individualized, the Copenhagen three-piece carried across four intricately constructed pieces, most open with the 21-minute “III” but never lacking for twists and turns that were an utter joy to follow. A band that has already collaborated with the even-jammier Electric Moon and who’ve aligned themselves with Causa Sui‘s El Paraiso Records, they seem like a safe bet to continue to grow into reliable purveyors of high-quality instrumental heavy psychedelia.

 

11. Ogre, The Last Neanderthal

Lots of awesome cover art this year.

Released by Minotauro Records. Reviewed March 10.

Its arrival was heralded by the righteousness of a Lego video for “Nine Princes in Amber,” though even that was little preparation for the classic doomery that would take place on the return long-player from Portland, Maine’s Ogre. The trio of guitarist Ross Markonish, bassist/vocalist Ed Cunningham and drummer Will Broadbent broke up in 2009, got back together in 2012, and with their fourth album, they made it clear they still had plenty to offer those who worship trad-style riffing, Sabbathy grooves and the kind of hooks that stay with you for days. The Last Neanderthal had plenty of those, and “Warpath,” the aforementioned “Nine Princes in Amber,” “Bad Trip” and “Son of Sisyphus” tapped into what makes the best of doom so ready for repeat listens.

 

10. Floor, Oblation

Pointed.

Released by Season of Mist. Reviewed April 22.

Another reunited trio, Floor had it tough coming into their first album in a decade, Oblation. The legacy of their 2002 self-titled would loom large over anything they put out, and guitarist/vocalist Steve Brooks had since gained a huge following as the spearhead of Torche, but four years after they started playing shows again, Floor met the challenge head-on with Oblation‘s 14 tracks, showing a natural progression from where they left off so long ago without seeming like they were trying to recapture a past that inevitably would prove irretrievable. Instead, they’ve set themselves on a course for continuing to develop as a band, and though Torche have a new album expected out this summer on Relapse and doubtless that will take some time and focus away from Floor, hopefully they keep pursuing that growth.

 

9. Mos Generator, Electric Mountain Majesty

Skully.

Released by Listenable Records. Reviewed March 14.

I’ll claim no impartiality when it comes to Port Orchard, Washington, heavy rock purveyors Mos Generator or the craftsmanship of guitarist/vocalist Tony Reed, but if half the point of a list like this is to nerd out over albums you dig (and I’ll gladly argue that it is), then Electric Mountain Majesty is right where it should be. Reed, bassist Scooter Haslip and drummer Shawn Johnson are clockwork-reliable when it comes to putting out high-grade material, and their second record since getting going again after Reed‘s few years in Stone Axe pushed beyond the considerable accomplishments of 2012′s Nomads (review here) and brought their sound to new and at times surprisingly doomed places while still keeping their core in a love of classic heavy rock songwriting. From where I sit, new Mos Gen is never one to pass up.

 

8. Blood Farmers, Headless Eyes

These guys sent me the album.

Self-released. Reviewed March 24.

Not that I didn’t expect a new Blood Farmers release to be cool, but Headless Eyes was still a surprise when it arrived earlier in 2014. Who was to say what the New York trio would concoct after a 19-year studio absence? Of course, what they came out with was dead-on horror-loving doomly plod, cuts like the instrumental “Night of the Sorcerers” and the deceptively catchy “Headless Eyes” not only worthy of Blood Farmers‘ substantial legacy but building on it. Void of pretense, Headless Eyes resonated with a brooding atmosphere capped by the surprising closer, “The Road Leads to Nowhere,” a cover of the theme from The Last House on the Left and positioned the three-piece of vocalist Eli Brown, guitarist/bassist David Szulkin and drummer Tad Léger among the fore of traditional doom’s practitioners.

 

7. The Golden Grass, The Golden Grass

They didn't.

Released by Svart Records. Reviewed March 25.

After seeing them live late last year (review here), digging their 456th Div. tape (review here) and putting their debut single on the best short releases of 2013 list, I had little doubt that their self-titled debut full-length would deliver a satisfying listen. Sure enough, the five-tracks of the quality-over-quantity release did precisely that, the Brooklyn three-piece harnessing unashamed positive vibes to mesh with a burgeoning psychedelic feel, catchy hooks and classic-style road songs serving as a reminder of the good times that rock and roll both provides and complements. Now that summer is here, I expect to revisit The Golden Grass plenty of time over these sunny, hot months, since it would seem the year has finally caught up with the band’s warmth and day-long spirit. The Golden Grass are reportedly headed to Europe later this year, so more to come on them for sure.

 

6. Ararat, Cabalgata Hacia la Luz

Still don't actually own this one either.

Released by Oui Oui Records. Reviewed April 4.

Every time I think I’m out, Cabalgata Hacia la Luz pulls me back in. The third full-length from Argentina trio Ararat seems to hit me with a different song each week. This week, it’s the six-minute “El Hijo de Ignacio,” with the insistent, punkish drums from Alfredo Felitte, backing noise and later keyboard eeriness from Tito Fargo and the low bass rumble of Sergio Chotsourian (ex-Los Natas), whose vocals seem to hover over the rest of the mix as though piped in from someplace else entirely. The whole album had a hypnotic effect that pulled the listener away from how diverse it actually was, moving into and out of heavy psych atmospherics with expert smoothness, but the more attention you paid, the more rewarding the experience became, as Ararat defied any expectations that might have come from their 2012 sophomore outing, II (review here), and boldly pushed toward new avenues of progression.

 

5. Conan, Blood Eagle

This either.

Released by Napalm Records. Reviewed Jan. 22.

Who’s heavier than Conan? The superlative UK trio have spent the two years since the release of their full-length debut, Monnos (review here), solidifying their dominance, and their first album for Napalm Records plays out like a victory lap over the skulls of lesser riffs. Opening with the near-10-minute lumber of “Crown of Talons,” Blood Eagle solidified the two-sidedness of Monnos into a back-breaking doom assault, and their pummel remains unparalleled as they continue to grow as players and songwriters. This year has also seen producer Chris Fielding join the band on bass, and as badass as Blood Eagle is — one would rarely think of a song called “Gravity Chasm” as being so aptly-named — I can’t help but look forward to hearing what Conan do from here and how they continue to refine one of doom’s most bludgeoning approaches.

 

4. Dwellers, Pagan Fruit

Nope.

Released by Small Stone. Reviewed May 22.

It’s the songs. I really, really dug Dwellers‘ 2012 debut, Good Morning Harakiri (review here) as well, and I won’t say a bad word about that album, but Pagan Fruit is in a different class altogether. And you know, it’s not just the songs. It’s how the songs play next to each other, the mood they create, and the hooks that Dwellers bring to the table with so much stylistic poise, calling the bluffs of any number of heavy psych blues rockers on “Totem Crawler,” or “Creature Comfort,” or “Son of Raven” or “Spirit of the Staircase.” The Salt Lake City-based trio of guitarist/vocalist Joey Toscano, bassist Dave Jones and drummer Zach Hatsis brought new levels of cohesion to their sound throughout Pagan Fruit and it remains an album that I have yet to get enough of hearing, one that seems to offer more each time I put it on and let my mind drift to its patient, open spaces.

 

3. Fu Manchu, Gigantoid

This one I bought.

Released by At the Dojo Records. Reviewed May 14.

From here on out, on any given day, any one of these is my album of the year. What a thrill it was to put on Fu Manchu‘s first album in five years, Gigantoid, and have it roll out such a tight-knit collection of heavy rolling excellence. The West Coast stoner riff gods of gnarl stripped down their production inspired in part by a reissue campaign of their earlier work on their own At the Dojo Records label, and the punkish feel suited them better than even they likely could’ve expected. With its opening four-song punch, the no-frills shot of “No Warning” and the closeout jam at the end of “The Last Question,” Gigantoid felt like more than one could’ve reasonably asked from a Fu Manchu long-player 20 years on from their debut, but the vitality they showed in its tracks, paired with the efficiency with which the songs were executed, showcased a timeless, perpetual appeal. They know what they’re doing and how they want to do it, and just because there was no doubt going into Gigantoid doesn’t make the end product any less of a payoff.

 

2. Mars Red Sky, Stranded in Arcadia

Especially this one is number one. Didn't get a CD of it either though.

Released by Listenable Records. Reviewed on March 11.

I’ve gone on at some length about what I find so appealing in the second full-length from Bordeaux trio Mars Red Sky, so even putting aside the deft hand with which they incorporated further heavy psych soundscapes into their songwriting, let me just focus on how memorable Stranded in Arcadia actually is. That was true as well of Mars Red Sky‘s 2011 self-titled debut (review here), but these songs are more ambitious, from the eight-minute opener “The Light Beyond” to the gorgeous melody-wash in the chorus of “Join the Race” and the stomp in the de facto closer “Seen a Ghost” before the leadout/refrain “Beyond the Light” calls all the way back to the first track. The development of Mars Red Sky‘s take isn’t necessarily such a surprise — the debut had its psychedelic, jammy feel as well — but the fact that the trio of guitarist/vocalist Julien Pras, bassist/vocalist Jimmy Kinast and drummer Matgaz managed to elicit such development while remaining true to the warm tones and humble, unpretentious vibe of the debut only makes Stranded in Arcadia more remarkable. I wouldn’t stop listening to it if I could.

 

1. Wo Fat, The Conjuring

Yeah, this neither.

Released by Small Stone. Reviewed June 18.

It wasn’t easy to hold off on reviewing the fifth album from the Texas power trio for as long as I did, but I thought the record was too good to jump the gun on, and so yeah, it’s a pretty recent writeup, but I feel comfortable putting The Conjuring at number one here because I’ve actually had a while to live with these songs. Or maybe “live in” them would be a better way to say it, since the dense wall of fuzz and jammed-out distortion Wo Fat create across this record is basically thick enough to take up residence. Recently back from a European tour, Wo Fat hit the road supporting their finest work to date, and as the lineup of guitarist/vocalist Kent Stump, bassist Tim Wilson and drummer/backing vocalist Michael Walter are more or less self-sustaining in their own Crystal Clear Sound studio in Dallas, there’s no reason they can’t just keep developing along the path they are. The Conjuring boasts their best jams yet but also holds firm to the already-planted-in-your-consciousness hooks that Wo Fat have long since established a penchant for, and one could just as easily put the band at the fore of traditional heavy rock riffing as of American heavy psych jammers. Any way you look at them, they’re at the top of their class.

Quick honorable mention goes to Radio Moscow, The Wounded Kings, 1000mods (review forthcoming), Eyehategod, Abramis Brama, Truckfighters, Valley of the Sun, the live Causa Sui record and Alcest. Been a hell of a year so far, and I’m already putting together a list of anticipated records for the next six months, so there’s much more to follow.

Thanks as always for reading.

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Six Records Released Yesterday You’re Going to Want to Pick Up

Posted in Features on April 30th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

This kind of thing happens every now and again throughout the course of a year, where there just happens to be one day filled with killer releases. It’s convenient if periodically overwhelming, and even in this age of preorders and stuff just showing up in the mail — a somewhat disconnected process compared to going to a shop and asking at the counter if something is in yet, but again, convenient — a day like that can be special. I remember days like that going back a longer time than I care to admit, and yesterday was definitely one of them as well.

If you felt the North American continent rumble just a little bit, that was probably just the combined weight — applied one on the West Coast, one on the East — of Fu Manchu and Floor putting out records at the same time. What will no doubt be two of 2014′s best releases when the year is done both arrived on April 29, but they were hardly the end of the story. In case you missed any of it, here’s a convenient (there’s that word again), alphabetically-organized assemblage from which to organize yourself before payday:

1. Floor, Oblation

Released by Season of Mist. File picking up the first Floor record since 2004′s Dove as a no-brainer. The Miami trio of guitarist/vocalist Steve Brooks, guitarist Anthony Vialon (interview here) and drummer Henry Wilson have been kicking around doing stuff live since a little while after they released their 8CD Below and Beyond box set in 2009, but Oblation (review here) is the new album and spiritual successor to 2002′s landmark self-titled outing. Following that one up is no easy task and they know it, but I think history will serve Oblation well in the long run, songs like “Love Comes Crushing” and the eight-minute “Sign of Aeth” expanding the sludge-pop formula that made Floor‘s early work so vital without sacrificing the hooks that at this point have spanned more than a decade en route towards timelessness. Floor on Thee Facebooks.

Floor, Oblation (2014)

2. Fu Manchu, Gigantoid


Released by At the Dojo. The first new Fu Manchu self-release after two full-lengths on Century Media and a handful of reissues through their own imprint, Gigantoid brings a rawer sound from the widely influential SoCal fuzz stalwarts. They recorded with Moab guitarist Andrew Giacumakis, and while the album boasts some quintessential examples of what’s always made the Fu‘s songwriting so infectious — looking at you, “Anxiety Reducer” and “Radio Source Sagittarius” — their hardcore punk roots come through on “No Warning” and Gigantoid rounds out with an extended jam led by bassist Brad Davis on “Last Question” and filled out through a barrage of effects from guitarist Bob Balch. If I can get to it today I’ll have an interview up with guitarist/vocalist Scott Hill (otherwise tomorrow), and a review is forthcoming, but the short version is Gigantoid is one of the year’s best, no doubt. Fu Manchu on Thee Facebooks.

Fu Manchu, Selections from Gigantoid (2014)

3. Jeremy Irons and the Ratgang Malibus, Spirit Knife


Released by Small Stone. Swedish upstarts Jeremy Irons and the Ratgang Malibus offer engaging touches of heavy psychedelic blues and expanded-definition stoner rock on their third long-player and Small Stone debut, Spirit Knife (stream/video premiere here), working naturally in a classic heavy context without pretending the last 40 years never happened. The album is immersive and atmospheric, offering standout moments of righteousness in 10-minute opener “Fog by the Steep,” “Clang,” “Point Growth” and elsewhere, and provides a look at a unit with the potential to continue to expand their sound going forward. Seems like JIRM have thus far flown under North American radars for the most part, but Spirit Knife is worth the effort of tracking down, and by that I mean clicking “play” on the Bandcamp stream below to hear it for yourself. Give it some time to unfold and you won’t regret it. Jeremy Irons and the Ratgang Malibus on Thee Facebooks.

Jeremy Irons and the Ratgang Malibus, Spirit Knife (2014)

4. Revelation, Salvation’s Answer


Released by Shadow Kingdom. Perennially underappreciated Maryland doomers Revelation and Pittsburgh’s Shadow Kingdom Records are no strangers. The label has handled reissues of 1992′s Never Comes Silence, 1995′s …Yet So Far, and 2008′s Release, in addition to having the first release of 2009′s For the Sake of No One and 2012′s Inner Harbor. This time, the band and imprint partner up for a revisit of Revelation‘s 1991 debut, Salvation’s Answer, and while the look is overdue, it’s no less welcome for its late coming. Salvation’s Answer might sound raw 23 years after the fact, but its elemental sound remains deceptively atmospheric, and like much of Revelation‘s earlier output, it wears a deep-running melancholy on its sleeve and blends progressive guitar work with a strong foundation of metallic groove. Revelation on Thee Facebooks.

Revelation, Salvation’s Answer (1991/2014)

5. Salem’s Pot, …Lurar ut dig på prärien


Released by EasyRider Records. Mired in drug-derived riffing and classic horror/exploitation ambience, Swedish four-piece Salem’s Pot have plenty of scummer groove in common with Electric Wizard on their debut, …Lurar ut dig på prärien, but if worshiping at the altar of Sabbath and drawn-out fuzz was a crime, we’d all have been put to death years ago. Their reverential depravity comes through in the three extended tracks, “Creep Purple” (14:28), “Dr. Death” (9:52) and “Nothing Hill” (9:12), and the album unfolds in a haze of degenerate psychedelia. It’s crafted with vinyl in mind, but give me a CD to get lost in front-t0-back without having to worry about changing sides, because Salem’s Pot isn’t the kind of listen where you want to have anything whatsoever to do with consciousness. You could tag it derivative, but what isn’t? Familiar though it might be, it’s still worth a nod. Salem’s Pot on Thee Facebooks.

Salem’s Pot, “Nothing Hill” from …Lurar ut dig på prärien (2014)

6. Wovenhand, Refractory Obdurate


Released by Deathwish Inc. History has taught time and again not to be surprised when it comes to the David Eugene Edwards-led outfit Wovenhand, and their seventh offering and first for Deathwish Inc., Refractory Obdurate continues to expand beyond genre bounds, incorporating tonal weight into their signature brilliant arrangements so that songs like “Masonic Youth” (get it?) and “Hiss” pummel their payoffs as much as they enhance the atmospheres of “Salome,” “King David” and the joyously rumbling “Good Shepherd.” Wovenhand are a singular entity on stylistic terms, and Edwards‘ commanding presence burns through this material even at moments when he seems consumed by the full-breadth chaotic churning surrounding him in the mix. Refractory Obdurate – culling influences no less a patchwork than its cover art — is the work of genius, driven by faith and in perpetual development. Wovenhand on Thee Facebooks.

Wovenhand, Refractory Obdurate (2014)

That’s a pretty good day. If I left anything out or if you’ve already picked any of these up, I hope you’ll let me know in the comments. Thanks as always for reading.

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Weedeater Announce Australia/New Zealand Tour with C.O.C.

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 25th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

This week, even as they made ready to head to Desertfest, sludge mavens Weedeater unleashed a new Scion-sponsored single called “Hot Doughnuts Now,” and needless to say, but it features both their signature lurching tones and unmitigated charm. To wit, it’s about doughnuts. And “doughnuts” is spelled right. Not that there was ever any doubt, but Weedeater remain on the ball.

In addition to the new song, which is the first Weedeater studio track to surface since their signing to Season of Mist for the release of their next album, the band have announced a tour in Australia and New Zealand alongside Corrosion of Conformity, the two bands serving as ambassadors together of some of the best in heavy that the American South has to offer.

The PR wire digs it:

WEEDEATER announce new tour dates in Australia, New Zealand

Infamous sludge outfit WEEDEATER (“Dixie” Dave Collins – Bass, Vocals; Dave Sheperd – Guitar, Vocals) has announced a new tour in New Zealand and Australia. The tour, which begins on July 18 in Sydney, will travel through Melbourne, Perth, and more before ending on July 28, and will see WEEDEATER play alongside CORROSION OF CONFORMITY. A full list of confirmed dates can be found below.

WEEDEATER released a new track as part of the “SCION AV Presents…” series. The track, titled “Hot Doughnuts Now” can be streamed and downloaded here. The North Carolina-based band is currently writing new material for their first Season of Mist recording, slated for release in 2014.

WEEDEATER was formed by front-man/bassist “Dixie” Dave Collins. Following the release of their 2001 debut ‘…And Justice For Y’All’, WEEDEATER immediately established themselves as a force in the U.S. tour circuit and quickly gained notoriety in the American metal scene. In the time since, the band have released three critically-acclaimed albums: ‘Sixteen Tons’ (2002), ‘God Luck And Good Speed’ (2007), and ‘Jason… The Dragon’ (2011), and toured around the world with the likes of DOWN, SAINT VITUS, HIGH ON FIRE, and THE MELVINS, HANK III, EARTH, SUNN O))) and more. The band has played prestigious festivals such as Maryland Deathfest, Hopscotch Festival, Stoned From The Underground, Asymmetry Festival, Roadburn Festival, Hellfest, and many more.

For more WEEDEATER news and tour information, please visit the Season of Mist website, and the WEEDEATER website and Facebook page.

WEEDEATER TOUR DATES:
All dates with CORROSION OF CONFORMITY
7/18 Sydney NSW @ The Factory Theatre
7/19 Canberra ACT @ ANU Bar
7/20 Melbourne VIC @ 170 Russell
7/22 Auckland NZ @ The Kings Arms
7/23 Wellington NZ @ Bodega Bar
7/25 Adelaide SA @ Fowlers Live
7/26 Perth WA @ The Rosemount
7/28 Brisbane QLD @ The Hi Fi

http://www.season-of-mist.com/
http://www.weedmetal.com/
https://www.facebook.com/weedmetal

Weedeater, “Hot Doughnuts Now” (2014)

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Floor Interview with Anthony Vialon: Gathered in the Glare

Posted in Features on April 24th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

A little over four years ago, when Miami’s Floor reunited for a couple shows to coincide with the release of the 8CD box set, Below and Beyond, on Robotic Empire, I was fortunate enough to interview guitarist Anthony Vialon about the band’s getting back together for what seemed then to be a very limited run. Now, as they prepare to release their new album, Oblation (review here), next week on Season of Mist and embark a day later on a cross-country tour that will place them squarely on the other side of the line between a “reunion band” and a working one, it seemed only fitting to follow-up with Vialon about Floor‘s progress these last several years and how they got to where they are.

Because when they first booked three gigs back in 2010 in Florida and Georgia, the going impression — I think on the part of the band as much as fans — was that was it. Then the response they got was huge enough that it turned into a few more shows, and a tour, and then some more shows, and it kept rolling on until next thing you knew, they had been picked up by Season of Mist and streaming new material. It’s been a few years getting to this point, but for Floor – the trio of Vialon, guitarist/vocalist Steve Brooks (also of Torche) and drummer Henry Wilson (also of House of Lightning) — the progression seems to have been natural, one step taken at a time, building momentum as they might otherwise with a series of crushing bomb-string riffs.

Certainly that seems to be the method on Oblation. Set in the shadow of Floor‘s by-now-legend 2002 self-titled, what could’ve easily been a project doomed from the start — and not in the good way — has turned out to mark not only a successful return on the part of the band, but a creative evolution that gives a sense of where they left off and where they are now. Songs penned and constructed by Vialon, Wilson and Brooks like “Rocinante” and “War Party” call to mind the unabashed pop hooks of Floor‘s first run, while the eight-minute “Sign of Aeth” takes these elements to places they haven’t yet gone, so that Oblation isn’t nostalgic, but looking forward.

Doubtless a good part of Floor‘s legacy will remain linked to the self-titled, but in talking to Vialon yesterday, that only seemed like something for the trio to be proud of. Oblation releases in the EU and elsewhere tomorrow, April 25, and is out in North America next Tuesday, April 29. Floor begin their tour April 30 in Miami and will finish in Atlanta on June 1 (dates here). In the interview, Vialon discusses writing for the band again, the response the reunion has gotten these last few years, his affinity for Rush, and much more.

Enjoy the Q&A after the jump, and thanks for reading.

Read more »

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Floor, Oblation: Offerings and Homegoings

Posted in Reviews on April 22nd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

It’s been just over four years since Miami trio Floor played a one-off reunion show that warned, “One show. One chance. Don’t blow it,” and it’s been a decade since the band’s sophomore outing, Dove, was released in 2004. Since that time, the band has spawned a family tree rivaled by few, members of the lineup throughout their 12-year initial run going on to play in acts like Torche, Dove, House of Lightning, MonstrO, Holly Hunt and Cavity (the latter of whom ran concurrent to Floor and who seem like fodder for a reunion of their own), among others. The biggest impact in terms of audience has unquestionably been by Torche, who, led by guitarist/vocalist Steve Brooks, inherited much of their pop-meets-bomb-drop-sludge-riffing ethic directly from Brooks‘ work in Floor, continuing to refine those methods and ultimately creating something new from them. Both bands now active, Floor release their first album since Dove and first new material since their reunion — 2009′s 8CD discography box set Below and Beyond notwithstanding — in the form of Oblation on Season of Mist. Its title refers to “an offering,” and that may well be what Floor have in mind, but while the core focus on tone and pop melody remains intact, there have been some very distinct changes in the approach of Floor – the trio of Steve Brooks, guitarist Anthony Vialon (2010 interview here) and drummer Henry Wilson — since they issued their landmark 2002 self-titled debut and they show up audibly in the listening experience of Oblation.

That’s to be expected, right? It has been a decade. To expect Floor to get back together and release Floor Pt. 2 seems unreasonable and unfair. As righteous as that album is, for Brooks, Vialon and Wilson to have come in with the intent of recapturing that magic — and it is the self-titled lineup that’s reunited — would be shooting themselves in the foot before they started. No. Oblation is a collection of songs poised not to surrogate the hooks of old, but to serve as a beginning for this new stage of the band. In short, Floor have grown up. Oblation is not the work of a three-piece experimenting with their sound and happening into brilliance. There is poise, confidence, and awareness at its root, and whether it’s the ultra-thick underlying chugging of the spacious opening title-track or the ensuing upbeat rush of “Rocinante” — one of Floor‘s sonic gifts was to not only have tones so thick, but to make them move, and that remains the case here — or the standalone megastomp of “Love Comes Crushing,” the band offer crisp, assured songcraft and a defining clarity of intent. While the songs remain exciting well beyond the simple novelty of their existence, a new Floor album seeming like an impossibility for years, that clarity necessarily comes in trade for the spontaneous sensibility of their earlier work. That’s the nature of creative progression — once you know what you’re doing, your approach to it changes. The middle section of Oblation that runs from “New Man,” through “Sister Sophia,” “The Quill” and the aforementioned “Love Comes Crushing” before getting to the catchy “War Party” still works as a fitting summary for Floor‘s aesthetic — thick, at times lush, alternately crawling, running, but always moving, etc. — but it does so more in triumph at its level of execution than in raw punkish urgency.

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Floor Announce Tour Dates; New Album Oblation Due April 29

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 19th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Time does strange things. It’s 2014. Floor, Sleep, Spirit Caravan and most of Kyuss are back together. Black Sabbath won a Grammy. The whole fucking world is upside down, the underground is over(ground), and all these things that seemed impossible to see are right in front of us. And yet we still use the combustion engine. Go figure.

I got sidetracked. Floor. The point is Floor are touring again, and the key difference is they’ll have a new album out — Oblation, which will be their first in a decade. Season of Mist will have the collection in the public’s greedy mitts come April 29, and wouldn’t you know the tour starts the day after? One would almost swear these things were coordinated ahead of time.

So says the PR wire:

FLOOR announce North American tour

Cult underground rock outfit FLOOR (Steve Brooks (also of TORCHE)- Guitar, Vocals, Anthony Vialon – Guitar, Henry Wilson – drums) have announced a North American tour this spring. The Noisey/Vice sponsored tour starts on April 30th in Miami, FL, and will see FLOOR travel throughout the month of April, before ending on May 1 in Atlanta, GA. A full list of confirmed tour dates can be found below.

FLOOR will be touring in support of their forthcoming album, ‘Oblation’. ‘Oblation’ will be released via Season of Mist on April 29 in North America (April 25 worldwide). ‘Oblation’ can be pre-ordered in various formats here.

‘Oblation’ track list:
1. Oblation
2. Rocinante
3. Trick Scene
4. Find Away
5. The Key
6. New Man
7. Sister Sophia
8. The Quill
9. Love Comes Crushing
10. War Party
11. Homegoings and Transitions
12. Sign of Aeth
13. Raised to a Star
14. Forever Still

The Florida-based trio was originally formed by Brooks and Vialon in 1992, and issued singles on respected underground labels like No Idea, Bovine, Rhetoric and more. The band’s wildly influential self-titled album was recently inducted into the Decibel Magazine Hall of Fame.

FLOOR Tour Dates
4/30 Miami, FL @ Churchills
5/2 Gainesville, FL @ The Wooley
5/3 Charlotte, NC @ The Casbah @ Tremont Music Hall
5/4 Washington, DC @ Rock & Roll Hotel
5/5 Brooklyn @ Saint Vitus
5/6 Philadelphia, PA @ The Barbary
5/7 Boston, MA @ Great Scott
5/8 Buffalo, NY @ The Tralf
5/9 Pittsburgh, PA @ Smiling Moose
5/10 Grand Rapids, MI @ Pyramid Scheme
5/11 Chicago, IL @ Double Door
5/13 Denver, CO @ Moon Room
5/14 Salt Lake City, UT @ Bar Deluxe
5/16 Portland, OR @ Branx
5/17 Seattle, WA @ Chop Suey
5/19 San Franciso, CA @ Elbo Room
5/24 Los Angeles, CA @ The Satellite
5/25 Fullerton, OC @ SlideBar
5/26 Phoenix, AZ @ Yucca Tap Room
5/27 Albuquerque, NM @ Launchpad
5/29 Austin, TX @ Red 7
5/30 Dallas, TX @ Club Dada
5/31 Birmingham, AL @ Bottletree
6/1 Atlanta, GA @ The Earl

https://www.facebook.com/floorofficial
http://e-shop.season-of-mist.com/en/predefined-search/46421

Floor, “War Party” from Oblation (2014)

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The Obelisk Questionnaire: Dave Chandler of Saint Vitus

Posted in Questionnaire on February 17th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

In many ways, Dave Chandler and Saint Vitus are inseparable. You cannot have one without the other. Since founding the band as Tyrant in 1979, Chandler has been Vitus‘ principle songwriter and lyricist, presiding over some of American doom’s most essential works in albums like 1984′s Saint Vitus, 1986′s Born too Late and 1990′s V on SST and Hellhound Records. When Vitus were once again laid to rest after a 2003 reunion, Chandler formed Debris Inc. with Trouble‘s Ron Holzner on bass and a host of drummers, including Henry Vasquez, who’d later replace Armando Acosta in Vitus after they got together again in 2009 for a reunion that has, to date, stuck, resulting in tours around the world and their first studio outing since 1995′s Die Healing, the 2012 Season of Mist release Lillie: F-65 (review here), a tour de force of Vitus‘ trademark no-frills, no-letup doom that only served to demonstrate how many others in their wake have taken their influence but not managed to capture the same vibe — that’s not to say “magic” — that makes Saint Vitus wholly distinct in their approach.

In 2012, Vitus officially released the limited Marbles in the Moshpit, a former bootleg live album on vinyl, and they’ve worked with Scion A/V on two releases, 2012′s Live EP and a split single with The Casualties. A stage presence like none other, Chandler lives in New Orleans and reportedly has songs in progress for a follow-up to Lillie: F-65. As anyone who’s ever read his lyrics knows, he’s a master of word economy, and that’s as true as ever in his answers to The Obelisk Questionnaire.

The Obelisk Questionnaire: Dave Chandler

How did you come to do what you do?

I learned how to play music very young in grade school and it eventually progressed to rock and roll.

Describe your first musical memory.

Playing the coronet, small trumpet, in the grade school band.

Describe your best musical memory to date.

That would have to be when we headlined the second stage at Hellfest in 2009.

When was a time when a firmly held belief was tested?

When we stuck to our guns and played what we wanted during what we called “the punk rock wars” within the first two years when we were signed with SST. Eventually we gained the respect of the people that didn’t like us because we refused change.

Where do you feel artistic progression leads?

That depends on oneself, but in can lead to a betterment of what you create.

How do you define success?

If you are happy with what you are doing, regardless of what it is, and you are happy with your life… you are successful.

What is something you have seen that you wish you hadn’t?

Dead bodies on the street.

Describe something you haven’t created yet that you’d like to create.

Our next album.

Something non-musical that you’re looking forward to?

The legalization of marijuana throughout the United States.

Saint Vitus on Thee Facebooks

Season of Mist

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Wino Wednesday: Saint Vitus, Lillie: F-65 in Full

Posted in Bootleg Theater on January 22nd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Is it too soon? It doesn’t feel too soon. It’s been over a year and a half since Saint Vitus released their comeback long-player Lillie: F-65 (review here) through Season of Mist, adding studio work to the live reunion that began on stage at Roadburn 2009. The four-piece — guitarist Dave Chandler, vocalist Scott “Wino” Weinrich, bassist Mark Adams and drummer Henry Vasquez — recorded the album with Mos Generator‘s Tony Reed while on a West Coast tour, and though to have put it to tape and mixed over the course of just a few days seems awfully quick, it was actually the longest the band, who began as Tyrant in 1979 and for whom Lillie: F-65 would serve as their eighth album and first in 17 years, had ever spent in the studio.

I said at the time and I still feel like what the album did best was capture the spirit of Vitus‘ classic Wino-fronted material. It was simple, but in being simple, that much easier to screw up. Chandler‘s guitar tone sounds dead-on to what he delivers live on “Let Them Fall” and “The Bleeding Ground,” and there’s no studio trickery or excess to it. At 34 minutes, Vitus are as aesthetically lean and efficient as they always were, and while it would’ve been a surprise on multiple levels had they emerged from the studio with some overblown, multi-layered prog opera, that they didn’t only served to reaffirm how much they, as a long-running act, still had to offer in terms of progression and staying true to what works within their sound. Lillie: F-65 has little room for screwing around — even the Wino-penned guitar interlude “Vertigo” is brief, and I’ll argue all day that “Withdrawal” is as necessary a finish as an album can have, even though it’s basically just feedback — and spends its time instead handing down visceral judgments, plodding riffs and the sense of unease that made Vitus distinguished from their peers during their initial run and continues to stand them out today.

It would be easy to go on, to talk about Chandler‘s lyrics and Wino‘s vocals, Adams‘ basslines in “The Bleeding Ground,” or Vasquez stepping in to fill the role of original drummer Armando Acosta, or my hopes for a new album if not in 2014 then early next year, but at this point, Lillie: F-65 has been around long enough to speak for itself. Probably better to do that than ramble.

Enjoy and have a great Wino Wednesday:

Saint Vitus, Lillie: F-65 (2012)

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Friday Full-Length: Weedeater, …And Justice for Y’all

Posted in Bootleg Theater on January 11th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Weedeater, …And Justice for Y’all (2001)

“Maybe I’ll just head back/To West Virginia, by god…”

I’m not going to say that Weedeater are a band I put on all the time. They’re not. If I’m sitting down to a nice dinner with The Patient Mrs. after a long day, and we’re having cheese and crackers or something like that, she’s got a glass of wine, maybe I’m nursing the end of an iced tea or whatever it is, I’m not likely to be like, “Hey baby, time for some Dixie Dave.” My mother, bless her heart, used to tell me when I said fuck too much in school that there’s a time and place for everything. Ultimately, and after much reprimand, I realized she was correct.

And to that, I will say there are corresponding times when nothing else but Weedeater will do. I know that Buzzov*en and Eyehategod were there before them in the South and Grief and Negative Reaction too in the North — to say nothing of Bongzilla or any such Western predecessor contingent — but they captured something right from the start on 2001′s …And Justice for Y’all that I don’t think any of those other acts managed to nail in quite the same way. It’s not even about having an angry attitude, which of course plenty of sludge has. It’s about just sound like you absolutely do not give a fuck about anything or anyone. Stoned nihilism put to warped tape.

This was one of those times when nothing else would do but Weedeater, and as it happens, they’re kicking off a tour  in a couple days on the West Coast with Black Cobra and they’re slated to reissue their four to-date LPs through new label Season of Mist in advance of a fifth later in the year. One to watch for, I guess. Their last outing, 2011′s Jason… the Dragon (review here), was a hoot.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

I was all set to sit here and type out some blues song woe is me shit. Lousy week, front to back. And I don’t know if it’s the Weedeater or what, but seriously, fuck it. I don’t have the energy for that shit anyway and what would it accomplish? Bum someone out who’s maybe enjoying some good tunes? Fuck that. I hope you had a great week, and I hope you hear the Weedeater and fucking groove out and it’s a good time.

Tonight ended strong at least. Got back a bit ago from seeing Gozu debut their new lineup. An interesting venture they’ve undertaken, adding a second lead guitar. The show was good, and hell, it’s probably still going on. I split a little while after they finished to come back here and start this. Leaving a show to go home and write about music. There’s probably not a lot of people who would understand that one. That’s how it went.

Monday I’ll review that, and I’ll hit up Weedpecker and Insider next week as well for album reviews. Also Monday I hope to have up my list of albums to watch for in 2014. My hope is to start writing over the weekend. So far I’m over 30, so yeah, I guess it’s gonna be a pretty large undertaking. I think maybe I’ll leave lists alone for a while after that, though they seem to be pretty popular. Fucking even the New York Times does that shit now. Capturing a moment, I guess. I’ve never been much for the moment.

From the bottom of my heart, I wish you a great and safe weekend. Have fun, kick ass, and we’ll see you back here Monday for more good times.

Please hit up the forum and radio stream.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

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Weedeater Touring California Next Month

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 19th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Oh California, you already have my envy for more than just the climate in the southern part of your state and your rampant availability of hoverboards, must you take Weedeater too? After a quickie warm-up show in Georgia on Jan. 14, North Carolinian sludge experts Weedeater are headed west for a run of shows in CA, running from Sacramento south to San Diego and then back up a bit to finish in Los Angeles. The tour comes on the heels of a digital reissue of the band’s catalog through Season of Mist ahead of physical pressings and reportedly a new album in 2014.

The PR wire sent along the following info, and you’ll notice that Travis Owens, who’d come in on drums to replace Keith Kirkum, isn’t listed in the lineup with “Dixie” Dave Collins and Dave Sheperd. Not sure if that means he’s out of the band, and if so, not sure who’s playing on the tour, but I’d be interested to find out.

Here’s the latest:

WEEDEATER Announce West Coast Tour Dates

Legendary sludge outfit WEEDEATER (“Dixie” Dave Collins – Bass, Vocals; Dave Sheperd – Guitar, Vocals) have announced a January West Coast tour. The trek, which starts on January14th in Atlanta, will see the band playing a string of shows in select territories before ending in LA on the 26th. A full list of confirmed dates can be found below.

The North Carolina-based band is writing new material for their first Season of Mist recording, slated for a release in 2014.

WEEDEATER was formed by front-man/bassist “Dixie” Dave Collins. Following the release of their 2001 debut ‘…And Justice For Y’All’, WEEDEATER immediately established themselves as a force in the U.S. tour circuit and quickly gained notoriety in the American metal scene. In the time since, the band have released three critically-acclaimed albums: ‘Sixteen Tons’ (2002), ‘God Luck And Good Speed’ (2007), and ‘Jason… The Dragon’ (2011), and toured around the world with the likes of DOWN, SAINT VITUS, HIGH ON FIRE, and THE MELVINS, HANK III, EARTH, SUNN O))) and more. The band has played prestigious festivals such as Maryland Deathfest, Hopscotch Festival, Stoned From The Underground, Asymmetry Festival, Roadburn Festival, Hellfest, and many more.

WEEDEATER’s four full-lengths will see a digital re-release on Dec. 10 worldwide, and will be followed by the release of physical formats in 2014.

Regarding the signing, WEEDEATER said, “When we heard we would be working with Season of Mist we almost wrecked our pants. Can’t wait for y’all to check out this sh*t.”

For more WEEDEATER news and tour information, please visit the Season of Mist website, and the WEEDEATER website and Facebook page.

WEEDEATER Tour Dates
1/14 Atlanta, GA @ The Earl
1/16 Sacramento, CA @ Harlows
1/17 San Franciso, CA @ Thee Darkside
1/18 Oakland, CA @ Opera House
1/19 Santa Cruz, CA @ Catalyst
1/20 San Diego, CA @ Soda Bar
1/21 Fresno, CA @ Strummers
1/26 Los Angeles, CA @ The Satellite

http://season-of-mist.com/
https://www.facebook.com/weedmetal/
http://www.weedmetal.com/

Weedeater, “Long Gone” from Jason… the Dragon

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Saint Vitus Announce East Coast Tour Dates for October

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 23rd, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

The fact that Saint Vitus are heading out in October to tour the East Coast with a couple dates in the Midwest as well is excellent enough. Frankly, I’m just glad these dudes got enough of a response from 2012′s triumphant return album, Lillie: F-65 (review here), that they still want to be a band at all, let alone one that hits the road multiple times a year, either in support of that record or otherwise. Mark it down again, Saint Vitus touring is fucking awesome.

That said, we already know they started writing new material back at the beginning of last month, and we know from past experience that when guitarist Dave Chandler works, he doesn’t waste any time putting things together. You can see where this is going. My question is whether or not Saint Vitus could possibly be road-testing new material for a possible 2014 follow-up to Lillie: F-65. I know that seems like a pretty quick turnaround, but records like Born too Late, Mournful Cries, V and the recently-reissued C.O.D. all had two years from one to the next, so they’d be right on pace.

I’ll be keeping my doomed fingers crossed for a new song or two in the set while I mark the calendar and start nerding out at the chance to see Vitus again. Here are the dates:

SAINT VITUS October 2013 U.S. headlining tour dates

with PALLBEARER, ZOROASTER & THE HOOKERS
https://www.facebook.com/saintvitusofficial
Oct. 4 San Antonio TX @ Korova
Oct. 5 Norman OK @ The Opolis
Oct. 6 St Louis MO @ Firebird
Oct. 7 Minneapolis MN @ 7th St Entry
Oct. 8 Chicago IL @ Reggies
Oct. 9 Grand Rapids @ Pyramid Scheme
Oct. 10 Detroit MI @ Magic Stick
Oct. 11 Cleveland OH @ Grog Shop
Oct. 12 Pittsburgh PA @ Rex Theater
Oct. 13 Baltimore MD @ Metro Gallery
Oct. 14 Upstate NY @ Bogie’s
Oct. 15 Boston MA @ Middle East
Oct. 17 West Chester PA @ The Note
Oct. 18 Brooklyn NY @ Europa
Oct. 19 TBA
Oct. 20 Springfield VA @ Empire
Oct. 21 Richmond VA @ Strange Matter
Oct. 22 Asheville NC @ The Orange Peel
Oct. 23 Nashville TN @ Exit / In
Oct. 24 Atlanta GA @ The EARL
Oct. 25 New Orleans LA @ One Eyed Jacks

Saint Vitus, “The Waste of Time” Live at Sweden Rock 2012

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Premiere: Vulture Industries Unveil Lyric Video for “The Tower”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on July 18th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Rife with a gleefully weird sense of progressive mania, the title-track of Norwegian five-piece Vulture Industries‘ new album, The Tower, works quickly to turn genres on their head. Their third full-length overall, The Tower marks the Season of Mist debut for the band, whose affinity for the aurally strange should find resonance with fans of anyone from The Ocean to Enslaved to Diablo Swing Orchestra.

The immediate double-kick push that starts “The Tower” probably most resembles the middle of those three comparison points — Vulture Industries guitarist Øyvind Madsen did a stint on keys in Enslaved prior to their acquiring Herband Larsen, who also mixed The Tower – but thanks in no small part to the performance of vocalist Bjørnar Erevik Nilsen, there’s no trouble distinguishing between the two. While raging out lyrically against the evils inherent in the unceasing push toward commercialism, Nilsen literally lists rules of being a part of “The Tower”‘s dominion, e.g. “Rule #1: Each man is what he owns/Whether or not one truly exist is a question of having things.”

He never goes quite so far as to call for an uprising against our capitalist masters — it would be pointless anyway; the bad guys won a long time ago — but the spirit of the track remains rousing for the duration anyway, the fivesome of Nilsen, Madsen, guitarist Elvind Huse, bassist Kyrre Teigen and drummer Tor Helge Gjengedal offsetting some of the blackened thrust with neo-prog metal noodling before the insistence resumes with the memorable, intricate chorus. Resolution, such as it is, comes on dramatic and vicious in kind, “The Tower” culminating not with the destruction of the title structure itself, but with one’s losing their very humanity in succumbing to it. Somebody’s read Marx. Right on.

Today I have the pleasure of hosting the premiere of the art deco-themed lyric video for “The Tower.” As you can see in the PR wire info that follows, Vulture Industries will release The Tower on Oct. 1 in North America, Sept. 27 everywhere else, on Season of Mist, the album is available now for pre-order and the clip was designed by Fabien Laubry based around the cover art by Costin Chioreanu. I think you’ll agree the look meshes well with the song’s anarchist underpinnings:

Vulture Industries, “The Tower” lyric video

VULTURE INDUSTRIES’ debut, ‘The Tower’ is slated for release on October 1st in North America (September 27th rest of world). ‘The Tower’ was recorded at the Conclave & Earshot Studios in Bergen. The album was mixed by Herbrand Larsen (ENSLAVED) and mastered by Jens Bogren at Fascination Street Studios (OPETH, KATATONIA, DEVIN TOWNSEND, IHSAHN, ENSLAVED).

Through their charismatic musicianship, VULTURE INDUSTRIES quickly earned the reputation of a formidable live act, characterized by the fusion of technical prowess with eccentric, manic performances by frontman Bjørnar Erevik Nilsen. “The Tower” explores dark musical vistas and lyrics within a unique mixture of progressive, experimental, extreme and even foreboding symphonic elements. With a wealth of creativity and the ability to shift gears smoothly in the blink of an eye, VULTURE INDUSTRIES bend, twist, and shape their songs into living entities embodying the width and breadth of human emotion. Comparisons to unique and trail-blazing artists such as FAITH NO MORE, DEVIN TOWNSEND, ENSLAVED and NICK CAVE, only act as starting points to this unique heavy rock band.

‘The Tower’ is available for pre order here.

Vulture Industries website

Vulture Industries on Thee Facebooks

Season of Mist

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audiObelisk: Stream Saint Vitus’ “Children of Doom” from C.O.D. Reissue

Posted in audiObelisk on July 15th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

It’s something of a blip in the Saint Vitus catalog, but 1992′s C.O.D. is ignored only at the peril of the listener involved. After the departure of prior vocalist Scott “Wino” Weinrich to front the reformed incarnation of The Obsessed, Vitus guitarist Dave Chander, bassist Mark Adams and drummer Armando Acosta teamed with Christian “Chritus” Linderson. Linderson had fronted Count Raven on their first album, 1990′s Storm Warning, and came aboard with Vitus at a crucial moment in their career.

Vitus has released V in 1990, an album that still counts high among the all-time classics of American doom. Teaming with Linderson was a risk from the start, but the two were labelmates on Hellhound Records, and looking at it objectively, the emotionality and ultra-doomed vibe the singer was able to capture has made C.O.D. easily the most underrated of Saint Vitus‘ albums. From the “Born too Late”-esque epic title-track to the moment when Chandler himself took the frontman role for “A Timeless Tale” to the reworking of “Hallow’s Victim” that closed out as “Hollow’s Victim (Exhumed),” C.O.D. is a strange but singular moment that contains some of the boldest forays of Vitus‘ career and some of the band’s most quintessential riffing.

By the time 1995 rolled around, Saint Vitus re-teamed with original singer Scott Reagers to issue Die Healing, which would remain their final studio outing until last year’s reunion triumph, Lillie: F-65. Linderson meanwhile fronted Terra Firma and can currently be found in Lord Vicar and Goatess, whose self-titled came out just a couple weeks ago (review here). Next month (Aug. 16 in Europe, Aug. 20 in North America), Season of Mist – the imprint that oversaw the release of the aforementioned 2012 outing — will reissue both C.O.D. and Die Healing. The two albums have long been out of print and not exactly easy to come by, so with these editions, a new generation of doomers gets to experience the sheer weirdness that ensued toward the end of Vitus‘ original run.

Check out the remastered version of “Children of Doom” on the player below, courtesy of Season of Mist:

Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!

SAINT VITUS are now reissuing two long overlooked classics from their impressive catalogue: “C.O.D.” (1992) and “Die Healing” (1995). There can be no doubt: SAINT VITUS are the godfathers of American Doom Metal. And for “C.O.D.”, meaning “Children of Doom” as revealed by the same titled song on this album, the band teamed up with a Swedish Doom legend: singer Christian “Chritus” Linderson of COUNT RAVEN. This trio together with compatriots CANDLEMASS have created their own Doom empire in the north of Europe. SAINT VITUS and Linderson successfully combined their trademark qualities: The singer brought his emotional, despairing and gloomy vocals to bear, while SAINT VITUS added the cataclysmic and unmistakable guitar sound of co-founder Dave Chandler – full of reverbs, feedbacks, flanger and apocalyptic distortion leading to amazing and magical solos. The timing of these re-releases coincides with SAINT VITUS’ celebrated return to the metal world.

Sold out venues on their latest tours, performances at prestigious festivals all over Europe and a new masterpiece in their discography “Lillie: F-65″ (2012) have revived the career of the Americans. Seventeen years after their previous full-length “Die Healing” was released, these legends brought back their signature song writing style on “Lillie: F-65″. Doom adepts will delight in the honey slow dripping of notes and the sudden energetic outbursts, which are as painfully depressing as they are sweet. Formed in 1979, SAINT VITUS were largely influenced by BLACK SABBATH, whose song “Saint Vitus Dance” obviously inspired the moniker. Since debut album “Saint Vitus” (1984) these Americans have released six more full-lengths and two EPs that are summarily considered to be classics of their genre. Despite some hiatus and changes over the years SAINT VITUS remained as true icons of Doom. Now “C.O.D.” can be discovered anew with careful re-mastering and two bonus tracks!

Tracklisting
1. Intro
2. Children of Doom
3. Planet of Judgement
4. Shadow of a Skeleton
5. (I Am) The Screaming Banshee
6. Plague of Man
7. Imagination Man
8. Fear
9. Get Away
10. Bela
11. A Timeless Tale
12. Hallow’s Victim (Exhumed)
13. To Breed a Soldier (bonus track)
14. The Chameleon (bonus track)

Album line-up
Dave Chandler: guitars, vocals on “A Timeless Tale”
Christian “Chritus” Linderson: vocals
Mark Adams: bass
Armando Acosta (R.I.P. 2010): drums

Saint Vitus on Thee Facebooks

Season of Mist

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Kylesa, Ultraviolet: Grounded in Drift

Posted in Reviews on May 21st, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Almost nothing is certain, and when it comes to doubly-drummed Georgian progressive sludgers Kylesa, even less than that. Yet when it comes to approaching their sixth full-length and second for Season of Mist, the 11-track Ultraviolet — or really any new Kylesa album — the one thing the listener can be sure of going into it is that it will be a step beyond its predecessor. At this point, I don’t think the band would release a record that wasn’t. Ultraviolet‘s predecessor was 2010′s Spiral Shadow (review here), which changed their course from jagged, crunching sludge to a more smoothed out and progressive sound — a shift that they’d built toward on 2009′s Static Tensions (review here) in some ways but come nowhere near materializing as completely — and one that, as ever, divided their fanbase into those who could get on board and those who couldn’t. This seems to happen on a nearly per-album basis with the Savannah natives.

While we’re talking about expectation, I’d anticipate no less for Ultraviolet in the long run, but Kylesa have never had a problem picking up new fans along the way to fill the spots of those who couldn’t get past one period or another of their ongoing progression; they’ve maintained a reputation as a hard-touring band for years and rightly so. Rooted in the work of guitarists/vocalists Phillip Cope (also theremin and production) and Laura Pleasants, there are consistencies of sound to be heard between full-lengths, and sure enough between Spiral Shadow and Ultraviolet as well, but save for very few moments throughout the latest, the band would be all but unrecognizable to anyone who jumped from 2005′s To Walk a Middle Course or 2006′s Time Will Fuse its Worth right to it, and no doubt that’s the intent: Progress. Joined by drummers Carl McGinley and Eric Hernandez and bassist Chase Rudeseal (the latter of whom may or may not have actually played on the recording), Pleasants and Cope have never failed to draw a distinct line from one outing to the next, and though it’s an outgrowth of elements from Spiral Shadow like the pop hook of “Don’t Look Back” or the dreamy ambience underlying “To Forget,” that’s no less true of Ultraviolet than it has ever been.

Single-word titles on five of the 11 cuts on the 39-minute album — namely opening trio “Exhale,” “Unspoken,” “Grounded,” and closing duo “Quicksand” and “Drifting” — would seem to hint at some stripped-down sensibility or simplicity of approach, but the fact is Kylesa have never been so melodically switched on or engaged. Cope and Pleasants trade vocal parts immediately and effectively on the insistently-riffed “Exhale,” chugging distortion creating a jabbing tension topped by call and response shouts before a swirl takes hold that the drums(s) underscore with a thud less frantic than it has been in the past, but still indicative of two players at work. I suppose on a structural level, Ultraviolet‘s opening salvo is somewhat simplified, but the atmosphere becomes more complex as “Unspoken” opens with subdued guitar and a wash of effects, Cope coming in as the song kicks off with a semi-spoken line that Pleasants — whose ascent as a vocalist continues unabated — answers back with layered melodies. The most memorable stretches of Ultraviolet are still to come, but the momentum “Unspoken” helps create and its prog-toned guitar solo in the second half act as a precursor to some of the album’s most intriguing moments, giving way to the familiar winding structure of “Grounded”‘s central riff, readily accessible to anyone who’s followed the post-Mastodon course of Southern US heavy metal, Pleasants handling the verse and Cope taking what probably would be the ensuing chorus if it was ever repeated. Instead, they build on the instrumental for a bit and round out with layers of Pleasants‘ vocals, ending with just her voice to set up the shift to the more thickly toned and aggressive “We’re Taking This.”

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Kylesa Announce First Tour in Support of Ultraviolet

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.

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