Posted in Whathaveyou on May 3rd, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
You know when the last time I listened to Sandrider‘s 2011 self-titled debut was? Frickin’ this afternoon. That album continues to thoroughly kick my ass around the block (review here), so it’s good news to see the Seattle trio are hitting the studio for a follow-up with producer Matt Bayles, who helmed the last one as well and who blah blah blah Mastodon, Isis and a ton of others. Right on.
Because the hits keep coming, Sandrider have some pro-shot footage of the new song “Gorgon” as well that follows with the PR wire update from Good to Die Records:
SANDRIDER enters the studio!
Seattle, WA’s hard rock saviors, SANDRIDER (ex-Akimbo), enter the studio this weekend to record the hotly anticipated follow-up to their much praised 2011 self-titled debut. The band is again recording with Matt Bayles (Russian Circles, Ken Mode, Mastodon, Helms Alee) at Red Room Studio and a Late Fall / Early Winter release is expected via Good to Die Records.
More details, including album title, release date and regional touring plans will be announced soon. The band’s debut is currently available for streaming via their official Bandcamp page, and a pro-shot video of brand new song “Gorgon” can be viewed [below].
This summer you can catch SANDRIDER on the Neumos stage at the Capitol Hill Block Party in Seattle. Pre-sale tickets are available HERE.
Posted in Whathaveyou on January 10th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Good news that Samothrace are coming east for a US tour in support of 2012′s Reverence to Stone(review here). That record killed and I missed them last time they rolled out this way. This time the calendar is marked and hopefully a piano doesn’t fall on my head between now and then. If one falls on it afterwards, well, fair enough. At least I got to see Samothrace.
The PR wire sent over this announcement earlier, and would you believe I wasn’t sitting in front of a keyboard? Fixed that right up.
Onward to whathaveyou:
SAMOTHRACE Confirms American Winter Tour Routing
SAMOTHRACE has posted the confirmed routing for their upcoming Winter US tour, as the crew continue to support their acclaimed second LP, Reverence To Stone. The bedlam will unravel with a hometown show in Seattle on February 15th, then continues on a mangled, counter-clockwise loop through the Midwest, Gulf Coast, Southeast and up the East Coast on their way back westward, with eighteen cities confirmed to endure their slow motion turmoil during the venture. The majority of the dates will see SAMOTHRACE forging alongside Metal Blade doom trio Pilgrim.
The touring will continue this Spring, as SAMOTHRACE will advance onto European soil for the first time ever, the band confirmed to perform at Heavy Days in Doomtown, an international DIY doom/stoner/sludge festival in Ungdomshuset, Copenhagen, Denmark running from May 2nd through the 5th. At this year’s event they will rage the stage alongside Graves At Sea, Pagan Altar, Cough, Procession, Danava, Moss, Bell Witch, Dark Buddah Rising, Conan, Lecherous Gaze, labelmates Mournful Congregation and loads more. Following the fest the quartet will traverse the European continent on an additional two-week tour, with dates to be announced in the coming weeks.
SAMOTHRACE US Winter Tour: 2/15/2013 The Highline – Seattle, WA 2/16/2013 TBA – Portland, OR 2/17/2013 Rotture – Portland, OR 2/20/2013 Aqualung – Denver, CO 2/21/2013 The Conservatory – Oklahoma City, OK 2/22/2013 Rubber Gloves – Denton/Dallas, TX 2/23/2013 Red 7 – Austin, TX 2/24/2013 Siberia – New Orleans, LA w/ Pilgrim 2/25/2013 TBA – Birmingham, AL w/ Pilgrim 2/26/2013 529 – Atlanta, GA w/ Pilgrim 2/27/2013 Slim’s Downtown – Raleigh, NC w/ Pilgrim 2/28/2013 Strange Matter – Richmond, VA w/ Pilgrim 3/01/2013 Saint Vitus Bar – Brooklyn, NY w/ Pilgrim 3/02/2013 Beaumont Warehouse – Philadelphia, PA w/ Pilgrim 3/03/2013 Ottobar – Baltimore, MD w/ Pilgrim 3/04/2013 Howlers – Pittsburgh, PA w/ Pilgrim 3/05/2013 TBA – Cleveland, OH w/ Pilgrim 3/06/2013 The Ultra Lounge – Chicago, IL
If you’re like me, you’re probably thinking to yourself, “But wait a second… Didn’t Snail already make a video for the song ‘Ritual’ from their most excellent 2012 album, Terminus, and didn’t The Obelisk premiere it?” Well, okay, maybe you weren’t thinking in those exact terms, or thinking that at all, but either way the answer is the same: Kinda.
Back before Terminus was released, I put up an interview with guitarist/vocalist Mark Johnson and bassist Matt Lynch about the making of the album, and indeed, there was a video premiere along with that Q&A, and indeed, that video was for the song “Ritual.” The difference is that this new clip wasn’t made by the band and it’s an original project by an outsider rather than compiled with found footage by the band themselves. I liked the other video, but you know, I like this one too, and they’re both (mostly) black and white, so there’s even a bit of continuity between them.
Actually, to be perfectly honest, my first thought when I was watching the “Ritual” clip below directed by Maxime Weber was to wonder if the office park that appears at around the two-minute mark and again later in some of the color section wasn’t the same one that was used for filming Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, but no, it turns out it was all filmed in Luxembourg, and I’m a jerk. Glad I got that one settled.
Enjoy “Ritual,” and if you’ve enjoyed it before, take it as a cue to break out Terminusfor another listen. I did:
It’s been a full 18 years since Stoner Witch was released as the second of three albums the Melvins would put out through Atlantic Records, and I still feel like there’s just no keeping up with it. The quick turns in “Sweet Willy Rollbar,” the immediate throwoff of “Skweetis,” the before-it-was-cool Morricone whistles of “Roadbull,” the Side Two weirdness of “Shevil,” and “Lividity.” It’s probably not the best album from this era of the band — I’d give that title to 1993′s Houdini — but Stoner Witchis one of those records that has a language all its own, an album that you can walk up to someone, go, “Dude, Stoner Witch!” and know immediately by their reaction if you’ve got a new friend.
Listening to Stoner Witchon tape — similar I suppose to listening to it on vinyl, but cheaper and boxier — it’s easy to lose track of the parts, so that as you come around to the slow progression and creepy whispers of “At the Stake” at the end of Side One, it’s from a mash of early ’90s avant heavy rock. The tape, which is clear — awesome — was worth the five bucks I paid before I even put it on, and though I’ve owned Stoner Witch on CD for many years now, the inherent compression of the format makes a big difference in the actual listening experience, as the high and low ends seem pushed together as King Buzzo‘s vocals, zit-like, are forced to the surface of the songs.
I guess this is “commercial” Melvins as much as something like that ever existed, but let’s face it, without the push Atlantic gave them and the work they did supporting Houdini, Stoner Witchand 1996′sStag, they wouldn’t be the band they are today, touring 50 states with a new live record out what seems like every six weeks or so. That’s not to say the Melvins weren’t working on their own terms at all times — to think that the abrasive noise at the start of “Magic Pig Detective” came out on a major label is fucking astounding — but these full-lengths, along with others along the way in their massive discography and 30-year tenure, helped define the band they’d become. Whichever you pick as your favorite, and whichever format your hear it on, Stoner Witchis a classic.
And should you happen to stumble into the tape as I did, hopefully you also enjoy getting lost in it all over again. If the future’s more your taste, here’s this:
Posted in Features on December 14th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
Putting themselves quickly at the fore of a burgeoning Stateside death-doom revival, Seattle-based duo Bell Witch made their debut in 2011 with a remarkably well-received demo. The initial four-track release (review here) landed with enough of an impact to bring bassist/vocalist Dylan Desmond (also of Samothrace) and drummer/vocalist Adrian Guerra (formerly of Sod Hauler) to the attention of tastemaking imprint Profound Lore, which picked them up for the release of the subsequent debut, Longing(review here). Desmond and Guerra, who’d released an album called Mnemosynetogether as part of a heavy psychedelic trio called Lethe (review here), departed those stylistic confines with Bell Witch, opting instead for the dreary drama and far-off melodicism they present on Longing‘s six-track/67-minute sprawl.
It’s a fascinating album for several reasons. Primarily because Desmond and Guerra do so well in alternating between a sense of wide-open space, oppressive tonality and nascent harmonized vocals, but also because of the intricacies they bring to the material, working in defiance of the notion that just because something is slow and open-sounding, it has to be simple all the time. That’s never been true, and as Bell Witch switch between growls and clean-sung arrangements and Desmond taps his six-string bass to emulate a guitar solo, it’s clear that there’s more to the band than just holding out riffs until the sound fades away — though when they do that as well, it works greatly to enhance the atmosphere of Longing, the mood of which has no trouble living up to the title it’s been given.
Perhaps the album’s greatest achievement comes on 13-minute second track “Rows (of Endless Waves),” on which Desmond and Guerra, both contributing to the initial barrage of screams and growls, are joined by Erik Moggridge, known for his Portland, Oregon-based solo-project, Aerial Ruin. As the lumbering fury winds down, Moggridge comes on to top periodic rhythm lines and higher-register bass notes with folkish verses that don’t necessarily depart from the darkness of the rest of the full-length, but provide complexity and depth to what that darkness means on a sonic level. At 9:35, bolstered by colossal instrumental swell, Moggridge leads a defiant recitation of vaguely Celtic-derived sway, and from the standpoint of melody and emotional resonance, it’s as rich as Longinggets, begging in its last minute to be sung along to as the waves of destruction mentioned in the lyrics seem to be crashing all around the final moaning vocalizations.
The inclusion and expansion of “Beneath the Mask” and “I Wait” from the demo was a launch point for the conversation, but there was much more than just that I wanted to discuss with Desmond, including the differences between recording with Bell Witch and with Samothrace — whose 2012 outing, Reverence to Stone(review here), was among the year’s most exciting albums, on recording Longingand what other than those two tracks they wanted to bring to their first album, on the use of melody and how it might continue to develop on their next batch of material, which Desmond reveals is already in progress. Choosing his words carefully, the bassist talked openly about all these and more.
Please find the complete 3,200-word Q&A after the jump, and please enjoy:
Posted in Radio on December 12th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
Of the apparently hundreds of albums being added to The Obelisk Radio on a weekly basis, the one that stands out most to me this week is Giza‘s Future Ruins. A debut full-length from the instrumental Seattle trio, Future Ruinswas recorded and mixed by Matt Bayles (Mastodon, Isis, etc.) and hits on a lumbering pace, vaguely post-metal in its style, but more because of a pervasive drone influence than any aping of the subgenre’s forebears. The crux of the six tracks doesn’t seem to be moody ambience or contemplative spaces so much as aurally crushing tones periodically contrasted with, well, semi-crushing tones.
It’s pretty crushing, I guess is what I’m getting at. Guitarist Richard Burkett, bassist Steve Becker and drummer Trent McIntyre will release the plodding six-track full-length (which starts with its longest song in the 10-minute “Séance” — immediate points) on CD in January, and it’s available on their Bandcamp now. It’ll be getting regular rotation on the radio station, and I’ve included the Bandcamp stream as well to highlight what Giza (on Thee Facebooks here) have going on. Hope you dig it:
Posted in Reviews on November 13th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
After a well-received 2011 demo, Seattle bass/drum duo Bell Witch make their full-length debut via Profound Lore with the 67-minute Longing, an album as much about atmospheric weight as catastrophic low end. Bassist/vocalist Dylan Desmond some will recognize as a founding member of Samothrace, whose 2012 LP Reverence to Stone (review here) was thrillingly heavy, or perhaps the underrated Lethe instrumental outfit, who released their only album to date in the form of 2009’s Mnemosyne (review here). In Bell Witch, Desmond is joined on drums and vocals by Adrian Guerra, and the pair manage to move with striking fluidity between sections that sound full and gut-twistingly heavy and sparse, ambient minimalist parts that seem to stretch sonically even farther than the runtimes of the songs themselves. No easy feat, that. Longing opens with its longest track (immediate points), the 20-minute “Bails (of Flesh),” but even so, three of the other five on the album top 12 minutes. But for the opener, nothing stretches past the 18 minutes of “Mayknow” from the demo (review here), but neither “Rows (of Endless Waves)” (13:02), nor “Longing (The River of Ash)” (12:06) are lacking for sprawl, and at 5:54, “Beneath the Mask” is essentially a filled-out version of what served as the demo intro, that track and the following “I Wait” (12:25) having also appeared there, and closer “Outro” follows with 3:27 more of atmospheric soundscaping. Perhaps the most notable point of growth between the demo and Longing lies in the vocals, which Desmond and Guerra execute in contrasts of extreme funeral doom growls and sad clean singing that adds mournful melodies to the band’s carefully constructed lumber, and particularly in the case of the late-track apex of “Rows (of Endless Waves)” sets Bell Witch on a course of emotional resonance similar to that which has brought the likes of 40 Watt Sun and Pallbearer (more closely related to the former, sonically speaking) such success over the last couple years. That’s not to say Bell Witch are aiming at the same kind of appeal – that’s really just a part of what they do – but their doom is modern in the sense of not feeling a need to cloak its sadness or titular longing in anything other than tonal thickness or impossibly slow tempos.
Being a duo works to Bell Witch’s advantage. At no point in the album does there seem to be a lack of presence where one isn’t intended. Longing, like Samothrace’s Reverence to Stone, was recorded by Brandon Fitzsimons, and Desmond’s tone remains consistent through these songs as it was on that record – rich and encompassing. But though “Bails (of Flesh)” opens quietly with an underlying rumble, at no point does there seem to be anything missing, most especially guitar, which if you asked me, I’d swear the first track has. Overtop of the grueling plod, there’s a solo, and it could be Desmond running his bass through an effects loop and layering in the recording, or it could be someone picked up a guitar, I suppose anything’s possible. In any case, Guerra does an excellent job holding the slower pace together as he does throughout the whole of the album, and when the vocals kick in just past the five-minute mark on the CD, they roar. I mean it. The growl is forward in the mix without wholly dominating it, but it is animalistic and terrifyingly well done. There are some who decry abrasive vocals outright – I’m not one of them. With a record like Longing, how it’s said counts almost as much as what’s being said, and lyrics like, “Hate for will/My grief will be avenged” are all the more foreboding for the indecipherable brutality of their presentation. Instrumentally, on the first track it’s the drawn out lead lines that carry across the emotionality until a midsection break touches on some clean vocals – not quite to the same level as “Rows (of Endless Waves),” but along the same lines – before the massive lumber resumes at 15:28 and the song begins its long march into oblivion, the growls returning to lead the way out and into the beginning of “Rows (of Endless Waves)” which is bombastic in comparison, a barrage of drums from Guerra meeting with the bass riffing and vicious screams and growls. For the first minute or so, it is unbearably heavy, but gradually, the song emerges, and by the time three minutes have passed, Bell Witch have gracefully shifted into minimalist pastoralia, beginning the build that will encompass the remaining 10 minutes of the track.
Posted in Whathaveyou on October 22nd, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
You’d have to figure that in order to be Earth‘s longest tour since the band got together in 1990, it would have something like 137 dates scheduled. Nope, 25. Still a solid month on the road though, so kudos to the band for pushing themselves 22 years later to go farther and continue exploring new ground, sonic and geographic.
Aligned with the likes of Eagle Twin, Stebmo and The Body along the way, it’s kind of like a tour of Earth playing with acts influenced by Earth. Can’t imagine that’s anything new for them at this point.
They’re still out supporting Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light II(review here), and the shows start this week, so keep an eye out:
EARTH Prepare For American Fall Tour
Following bursts of worldwide touring in support of their two-part Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light album series, Seattle’s EARTH will embark on their newest tour this week, with a nearly month of live performances confirmed across America.
The most extensive American tour EARTH have planned since their 1990 inception, the Seattle purveyors of the slow-motion riff will traverse the country and back on a twenty-five date run, kicking off this Wednesday, October 24th in Portland, Oregon. Along the way the quartet will take part in the massive annual Fun Fun Fun Fest in Austin, Texas alongside literally dozens of international artists of all genres. This will be the first U.S. tour since they hit the road in support of Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light I in 2011, the band’s set for the tour confirmed to contain a majority of the material from Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light II.
While the band is touring in support of the Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light albums, the EARTH lineup for this voyage will be the touring lineup from the band’s lauded 2008 LP The Bees Made Honey in the Lion’s Skull, comprised of Steve Moore on keys and trombone, Don McGreevy on bass, Adrienne Davies on drums and founder Dylan Carlson on guitar. Support will be provided by Stebmo (featuring members of Earth and more) as well as Southern Lord labelmates Eagle Twin and Fontanelle throughout the journey.
EARTH Fall Tour: 10/24/2012 Rotture – Portland, OR w/ Fontanelle, Stebmo 10/26/2012 Center for the Arts, Eagle Rock – Los Angeles, CA w/ Fontanelle, Stebmo 10/28/2012 Great American Music Hall – San Francisco, CA w/ Fontanelle, Stebmo 10/29/2012 Soda Bar – San Diego, CA w/ Stebmo 10/31/2012 Rhythm Room – Phoenix, AZ w/ Balmorehea, Stebmo 11/02/2012 Auditorium Shores – Austin, TX @ Fun Fun Fun Festival 11/03/2012 Bryan Street Tavern – Dallas, TX w/ Stebmo 11/04/2012 One Eyed Jacks – New Orleans, LA w/ Stebmo 11/06/2012 Will’s Pub – Orlando, FL w/ Stebmo 11/07/2012 The Earl – Atlanta, GA w/ Daughn Gibson, Stebmo 11/08/2012 Grey Eagle – Asheville, NC w/ Stebmo 11/09/2012 Rock and Roll Hotel – Washington, DC w/ Eagle Twin, Stebmo 11/10/2012 Littlefield – Brooklyn, NY w/ Eagle Twin, Stebmo 11/11/2012 TT the Bears – Cambridge, MA w/ Eagle Twin, Stebmo 11/12/2012 Johnny Brenda’s – Philadelphia, PA w/ Eagle Twin, Stebmo 11/13/2012 Altar Bar – Pittsburgh, PA w/ Eagle Twin, Stebmo 11/14/2012 Grog Shop – Cleveland, OH w/ Eagle Twin, Stebmo 11/15/2012 Taft Ballroom – Cincinnati, OH w/ Eagle Twin, Stebmo 11/16/2012 Township – Chicago, IL w/ Eagle Twin, Stebmo 11/17/2012 Township – Chicago, IL w/ Eagle Twin, Stebmo 11/18/2012 Triple Rock Social Club – Minneapolis, MN w/ Eagle Twin, Stebmo 11/19/2012 The Record Bar – Kansas City, MO w/ Eagle Twin, Stebmo 11/21/2012 Marquis Theatre, Denver, CO w/ Stebmo 11/24/2012 The Shakedown – Bellhingham, WA w/ The Body, Low Hums 11/25/2012 The Crocodile – Seattle, WA w/ The Body, Stebmo
Posted in Reviews on October 16th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
I am constantly working at a deficit. Financially, yes, because like many of my countrymen I’m am tens of thousands of dollars in debt — but also in terms of reviews. I’malwaysbehind on reviews. Hell, it was into July of this year before I finally put the kybosh on writing up anything from 2011, and I’m pretty sure if I hadn’t put my foot down on it, I’d still have year-old albums going up or older. My to-do list grows like a witchcult.
It’s not something to complain about and I’m not complaining. I’m stoked people give enough of a shit to send their CDs in to be reviewed — especially those who actually send CDs — and it’s for that reason that I do this second reviewsplosion (first one here).
Yeah, as ever, I’m behind on reviews, but I’m also working on being more concise — I swear I am; check out the At a Glance reviews if you don’t believe me — and one of the things I liked so much about the last reviewsplosion was it forced me to get to the fucking point. As direct a line as possible to a review. Boiling the idea down to its essential core.
With that in mind, here’s my attempt to both balance my review budget and be as clear as humanly possible. Hope you dig:
Altar of Oblivion, Grand Gesture of Defiance
The subject of some spirited debate on the forum, the second record from Danish five-piece Altar of Oblivion revels in traditional doom methods. There’s an air of pomp in some of the songs — “Graveyard of Broken Dreams” lays it on a little thick — but by and large, Grand Gesture of Defiance(Shadow Kingdom) is a more than solid showing of genre. Classic underground metal flourishes abound, and while it’s not a record to change your life, at six tracks/34 minutes, neither does it hang around long enough to be overly repetitive. You could do way worse. Altar of Oblivion on Thee Facebooks.
Blooming Látigo, Esfínteres y Faquires
Primarily? Weird. The Spanish outfiit Blooming Látigo make their debut on Féretro Records (CD) and Trips und Träume (LP) with the all-the-fuck-over-the-place Esfínteres y Faquires, alternately grinding out post-hardcore and reciting Birthday Party-style poetry. They reach pretty hard to get to “experimental,” maybe harder than they need to, but the on-a-dime stops and high-pitched screams on tracks like “Onania” and “Prisciliano” are well beyond fascinating, and the blown-out ending of “La Destrucción del Aura” is fittingly apocalyptic. Who gave the art-school kids tube amps? Blooming Látigo on Bandcamp.
Five years since their second offering, Green Magic, left such a strong impression, Italian stoner rock trio El-Thule return with Zenit (Go Down Records), which makes up for lost time with 50 minutes of heavy riffs, fuzzy desert grooves and sharp, progressive rhythms. The band — El Comandante (bass), Mr. Action (guitar/vocals) and Gweedo Weedo (drums/vocals) — may have taken their time in getting it together, but there’s little about Zenit that lags, be it the faster, thrashier “Nemesis” or thicker, Torche-esque melodic push of the highlight “Quaoar.” It’s raw, production-wise, but I hope it’s not another half-decade before El-Thule follow it up. El-Thule on Thee Facebooks.
Botanist, III: Doom in Bloom
It’s a nature-worshiping post-black metal exploration of what the History Channel has given the catchy title “life after people.” If you’ve ever wondered what blastbeats might sound like on a dulcimer, Botanist‘s third album, III: Doom in Bloom has the answers you seek, caking its purported hatred of human kind in such creative instrumentation and lyrics reverent of the natural world rather than explicitly misanthropic. The CD (on Total Rust) comes packaged with a second disc called Allies, featuring the likes of Lotus Thief and Matrushka and giving the whole release a manifesto-type feel, which suits it well. Vehemently creative, it inadvertently taps into some of the best aspects of our species. Botanist’s website.
Say what you will about whiteboys and the blues, the bass tone that starts “Nobody Get Me Down” is unfuckwithable. And Seattle trio GravelRoad come by it pretty honestly, having served for years as the backing back for bluesman T-Model Ford. The album Psychedelta (on Knick Knack Records) jams out on its start-stop fuzz in a way that reminds not so much of Clutch but of the soul and funk records that inspired Clutch in the first place, and though it never gets quite as frenetic in its energy as Radio Moscow, there’s some of that same vibe persisting through “Keep on Movin’” or their Junior Kimbrough cover “Leave Her Alone.” Throaty vocals sound like a put-on, but if they can nail down that balance, GravelRoad‘s psychedelic blues has some real potential in its open spaces. GravelRoad on Thee Facebooks.
The Linus Pauling Quartet, Bag of Hammers
Texas toast. The Linus Pauling Quartet offer crisp sunbursts of psychedelic heavy rock, and after nearly 20 years and eight full-lengths, that shouldn’t exactly be as much of a surprise as it is. Nonetheless, Bag of Hammers(Homeskool Records) proffers a 41-minute collection of heady ’90s-loving-the-’70s tones while venturing into classic space rock on “Victory Gin” and ballsy riffing on “Saving Throw.” Being my first experience with the band, the album is a refreshing listen and unpretentious to its very core. Eight-minute culminating jam “Stonebringer” is as engaging a display of American stoner rock as I’ve heard this year, and I have to wonder why it took eight records before I finally heard this five-man quartet? Hits like its title. LP4′s website.
Odyssey, Abysmal Despair
It’s the damnedest thing, but listening to Abysmal Despair, the Transubstans Records debut from Swedish prog sludge/noise rockers Odyssey, I can’t help but think of Long Island’s own John Wilkes Booth. It’s the vocals, and I know that’s a really specific association most people aren’t going to have, but I do, and I can’t quite get past it. The album is varied, progressive, and working in a variety of modern underground heavy contexts nowhere near as foreboding as the album’s title might imply, like Truckfighters meets Entombed, but I just keep hearing JWB‘sKerry Merkle through his megaphone. Note: that’s not a bad thing, just oddly indicative of the greater sphere of worldwide sonic coincidence in which we all exist. If anything, that just makes me like Abysmal Despair more. Odyssey on Soundcloud.
Palkoski, 2012 Demo
Conceptual Virginian free-formers Palkoski released the three-track/67-minute 2012 demo earlier this year through Heavy Hound. Most of it sounds improvised, but for verses here and there that emerge from the various stretches, and the band’s alternately grinding and sparse soundscapery results in an unsettling mash of psychotic extremity. It is, at times, painful to listen, but like some lost tribal recording, it’s also utterly free. Limited to 100 CDs with a second track called “The Shittiest EP Ever” and a third that’s a sampling of Palkoski‘s ultra-abrasive noise experimentation live, this one is easily not for the faint of heart. Still, there’s something alluring in the challenge it poses. Palkoski at Heavy Hound.
Radar Men from the Moon, Echo Forever
Following their charming 2011 EP, Intergalactic Dada and Space Trombones, the Eindhoven instrumental trio Radar Men from the Moon (On the Radar’ed here) return on the relative quick with a 51-minute full-length, Echo Forever. More progressive in its jams, the album’s psychedelic sprawl shows the band developing — I hesitate to compare them to 35007 just because they happen to be Dutch, but the running bassline that underscores “Atomic Mother” is a tempter — but there’s still an immediacy behind their changes that keeps them from really belonging to the laid-back sphere of European jam-minded heavy psychedelia. They’re getting warmer though, stylistically and tonally, and I like that. Interesting to hear a song like “Heading for the Void” and think Sungrazer might be burgeoning as an influence. Cool jams for the converted. Radar Men from the Moon on Bandcamp.
Sound of Ground, Sky Colored Green
There are elements of of Yawning Man, or Unida or other acts in the Californian desert milieu, but basically, Moscow’s Sound of Ground sound like Kyuss. They know it. Their R.A.I.G. debut full-length, Sky Colored Green, makes no attempt to hide it, whether it’s the “Green Machine” riffing of “Lips of the Ocean” or the speedier Slo-Burnery of “El Caco,” though the metallic screaming on “R.H.S.” is a dead giveaway for the band’s youth, coming off more like early Down than anything Josh Homme ever plugged in to play. While not necessarily original, the trio are firm in their convictions, and Sound of Ground tear through these 11 tracks with engaging abandon. The Russian scene continues to intrigue. Sound of Ground on Thee Facebooks.
Posted in Features on August 10th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
Reverence toStone, the second album from Samothrace, is not short on crash and rumble. The two-song outing arrives on 20 Buck Spin four years after Samothrace‘s debut, Life’s Trade, and in the time since that record was released, the band relocated from its original home in Lawrence, Kansas, to Seattle — where one imagines, if nothing else, the coffee is better — and re-acquired guitarist Reneta Castagna.
She’d played on the first album, but as drummer Joe Axler explains in the interview that follows here, Castagna would prove an essential piece of the puzzle in making Reverence to Stone(review here) happen. As well as dealing with substance abuse issues, it wasn’t until Castagna moved north from New Mexico to rejoin the band that Samothrace was able to finish the writing of the 20-minute landmark track, “A Horse of Our Own,” which, when coupled with a reworked version of “When We Emerged” from the band’s original 2007 demo (topping out at 14:17), makes up the total runtime of the album.
Though the two songs are individually long — and they more than justify their length, each playing out in epic progressions of loud/quiet back and forths and builds — the album as a whole is pretty short, and in talking to Axler, I wanted to find out if that was on purpose. The drummer, who also plays in Skarp and Theories and is a veteran of Iamthethorn, Book of Black Earth as well as a slew of others, joined Samothrace after guitarist Bryan Spinks and bassist Dylan Desmond relocated in 2009 — he replaced Joe Noel, who played on Life’s Trade — and had a unique perspective to offer on stepping into the already established writing process between Spinks, Desmond and then Castagna too, working with the three original members to create Reverence to Stoneover the course of the last three years.
And in discussing that, Axler revealed that part of the process adjusting to Samothrace’s craft came in figuring out how to play slow — something which any drummer who’s ever done it will tell you is not as easy as it seems — and how to fill the spaces when the push drops out and he’s accompanying the more ambient stretches. I’m not a percussionist unless you count tapping on my desk, but it was a fascinating take anyway and something you might not immediately think of when listening to Reverence to Stone, and particularly “A Horse of Our Own,” on which the drums are far back in the mix, holding the track together while Spinks, Castagna and Desmond add to the seemingly infinite sonic space.
It was a relatively quick conversation, but as well as discussion of recording techniques — Reverence to Stone was produced by Brandon Fitzsimons at the famed Soundhouse Studios (High on Fire, Skin Yard, Camarosmith, etc.) — and the fact that he’s going to miss the East Coast run that will follow Samothrace‘s handful of West Coast dates that start a week from today, Axlerwas forthcoming on a range of subjects. I hope you’ll agree as you read through.
Please find the complete Q&A with Joe Axler of Samothrace, who’d just gotten out of band practice, after the jump, and please enjoy.
Posted in Reviews on July 25th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
I have a problem Samothrace’s second album, Reverence to Stone, and that is as follows: I can’t seem to make it loud enough. That’s not a complaint with the recording itself, which is plenty loud, but I’ve tried speakers, headphones, in the car, whatever, and nothing seems to be worthy volume-wise. The human ear drum can only take so much, and Samothrace seem to be calling for more. Their first outing since 2008’s Life’s Trade announced their arrival in the newer school of ultra-distorted plod and also released via 20 Buck Spin, the album is comprised of two tracks – “When We Emerged” and “A Horse of Our Own” – that clock in at just under 35 minutes. Like its predecessor, it is a work of exceptional quality, but the key difference between the two is the marked increase in creative scope. Life’s Trade was doom, and Reverence to Stone is as well, but the definition thereof that Samothrace are working with on these tracks is far less rigid and far more individualized. The cave echo on Joe Axler’s drums will be familiar to many who’ve encountered their newer school brethren and sistren in the genre, and a lurching feeling of remorse in their weighted tonality should come as little surprise. It’s the manner in which these elements are put to use and the progression of the songs that gives Reverence to Stone its distinguished feel. The guitar work of Renata Castagna and Brian Spinks (the latter also handles vocals) adds melody to the pummel and the strength of the rhythm section of Axler and bassist Dylan Desmond lies not only in setting and maintaining a groove, but in highlighting and enriching the dynamics of the songwriting. And make no mistake, both “When We Emerged” (an earlier incarnation of which appeared on their initial 2007 demo) and “A Horse of Our Own” are songs. Each has its stretches of indulgence – at 14:20 and 20:29, respectively, that would just about have to be part of the point – but there are memorable landmarks along the way, whether it’s the guitar lead and bass interplay that forms a triumphant swirl on “When We Emerged” or the post-metallic gallop of “A Horse of Our Own.”
And though one doesn’t generally think of records with songs as long as these as possibly being short, a 35-minute runtime is not only manageable, but it allows the listener to be overwhelmed by the tones, by Samothrace’s droning riffs, by Spinks’ growls and screams, by the amelodic rumble and the melodic soloing it meets along the way, but still come out of the experience without suffering from overexposure. Life’s Trade was 47 minutes, and Reverence to Stone shaves a full 12 off that. For Samothrace, that might only be one song, but it might be a song that pulls away somehow from the accomplishments of these two. After four years between releases and their share of tumult – Castagna was out and back in the lineup between the prior album and this one and at some point the band relocated from Kansas to their current residence in Seattle — it’s commendable that Samothrace didn’t decide to top a full hour this time out, instead showing a restraint that better serves the impact their material has on the listener. In the case of “When We Emerged,” that impact is visceral. The song opens with a few ambient guitar lines, but foreboding volume swells give a sense of the crush to come, and as fitting as the title is for the collective’s reemergence, so too is the track well placed before “A Horse of Our Own.” Interplay between Castagna and Spinks is an immediate distinguishing factor, and around four minutes in when the latter unleashes the first of many roars to come, the effect is blistering. Echoing screams ensue over sparse riffing that nonetheless feels claustrophobic for its heft, and it’s not until shortly before six minutes in that Axler announces a change with a snare hit that the pace picks up and Samothrace offer any measure of counterpoint to their onslaught of über-doom misery. The aforementioned leads are like the light that hits the bottom of the ocean, and Desmond’s answer to them is fodder for low end fetishizing that emerges from the mix and sets up the crunching groove that takes hold at 7:24. What the differences are between this “When We Emerged” and the one from their demo might be, I don’t know, but it’s hard to see the song doing anything other than living up to its title.
Posted in audiObelisk on July 17th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
When guitarist/vocalist Tony Reed (middle above) emailed me last week to ask me if I’d be interested in streaming and hosting a free download of Mos Generator covering the Nirvana rarity “I Hate Myself and I Want to Die,” it was with his usual bullshit-free manner. To paraphrase, “You wanna do this thing?” And yes, yes I did. The recently-reviewed reissue of the first Mos record still gets plenty of spins out by me, and with the band fresh on the brain as much as anything ever is, I thought it was a great idea. And here we are.
This fall, as you can read below in the PR wire info, Mos Generator will release their first album of new studio material since 2007, and if five years doesn’t seem like a long time — there are bands who take that long just on a whim — put it to the scale of Reed‘s prolific output with StoneAxe and the picture of Mos Generator‘s inactivity becomes much clearer. Together with bassist Scooter Haslip and drummer Shawn Johnson, Reed returns Mos Generator to its priority position in 2012 amid exciting prospects and refreshed creativity.
Originally recorded for a tribute album that was never released, “I Hate Myself and I Want to Die” can be streamed on the player below and downloaded by clicking the link that follows. Please enjoy:
Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!
Thanks as always to Reed for letting me host the stream and download, and to Ripple Music, who will release the new Mos Generator album in the fall and who sent over the following notice:
For five years, fans of Mos Generator have been waiting for an album of new material, and in Fall of 2012, the wait will finally be over! TonyReed has been meticulously turning knobs and fine-tuning the audio aspects of the latest, to-be-named MosGenerator record, making everything sound just right.
But five years has been a long time to wait, and three more months almost feels like a lifetime, so the benevolent souls of MosGenerator are offering up a free download of song that has never been made available before!
“I Hate Myself And I Want To Die” is a Nirvana song that was originally released in 1993 on the Beavis and Butt-Head Experience compilation and the B-side of the “Pennyroyal Tea” single, and it gets the ultimate Mos Generator treatment! This Mos version was originally recorded in 2008 for a Nirvana tribute album that never came out, so now — download, enjoy, and stay tuned for upcoming information on the new Mos Generator album!
There are those who mourn the passing of the music video as though because it lost corporate endorsement it’s a dead medium. Of those people, Seattle’s Into the Storm quickly makes fools with their clip for the song “K’nuckles,” taken from their late-2011 12″. Aside from being visually creative, the song itself is also right-on Melvins-type heavy, and, well, I have a hard time not digging that. Also, they have a song called “Jean-Luc Picard.” I guess I’m easily pegged.
If you enjoy the clip, you might want to check out the Into the Storm Bandcamp page, where you can buy their album, Captains, and hear it in its entirety. Or, if you’re feeling click-lazy, as I am on this hazy early Saturday evening, you might just want to stream it on the player below. That’s alright too:
It occurs to me I never put the numbers up this week. They were down. The decision was partially conscious because of that, but it was also a question of time. On Monday, it was either put up the album of the summer of the week post or do the numbers, and I thought talking about Fu Manchu would be more fun all around. I was right. Plus, there’s a bunch of stuff up in the air right now and I didn’t want to do the numbers, talk about what’s coming up and then have it not happen. So, you know, no numbers this month.
Speaking of things I said would happen that didn’t, last week, I mentioned a giveaway and that didn’t come to fruition. To you who check this site on weekends (bless your generous hearts), I’ll say it now: Come Monday, I’ll be giving away five CD copies and three LPs of the Kadavar self-titled on Tee Pee Records, and I’ll also be streaming a track from that album as well. You don’t want to miss it.
This week coming I’ll also have an exclusive free download of Mos Generator covering Nirvana [Update: This is happening next week.], and if I get confirmation on time, a full-album stream of the new Nightstalker on Small Stone. Not only that, but along with my interview with Jon Davis of Conan, I’ll have a special playlist he curated hosted for streaming.
Pretty audio-heavy week, but I’m up for it if you are.
Until then, I hope you have a great and safe weekend. I have a feeling that before the next couple hours are out, I’ll be kicking around the beer thread (it’s official!) over on the forum, so hopefully I’ll see you there.
Seattle bombast specialists Akimbo were a noisy iceberg of soul in a sea of jive turkeys. News of their breakup came my way (as a lot of news does) on the forum, and as much as I enjoyed the self-titled debut from the offshoot band Sandrider (review here) when it came out last December, it’s still a bummer to see Akimbo officially call it quits. I have fond memories of catching them in New York in 2005/2006 and having them pretty much blow away everyone in the room, myself included. Their albums were killer — right up to the last one, 2008′s Jersey Shores — but live, they were a fucking beast.
At least they’re going out in style with support from Tad Doyle‘s monstrous Brothers of the Sonic Cloth — put an album out so I can slobber all over it, would you? — at their last show. Here’s the poster for the gig, which looks like something out of my worst Legend of Zelda nightmares.
Goes without saying (and yet here I am, saying it) that if you’re anywhere near Seattle when this shindig goes down, it’s highly recommended.
When the first two songs of your first album are named after Black Sabbath records, you know you’re a fan. Washington-based Golden Pig Electric Blues Band may have covered The Beatles on their 2003 self-titled debut, but their riffs were almost exclusively Iommi, and you could even hear it in the pan-left/pan-right dueling guitar solos on “Freedog,” never mind the shuffling groove. These are some dudes who know what they like.
The illustrious Randall Dunn (SunnO))), Master Musicians of Bukkake, etc.) produced most of the first record, but the live track at the end, was captured in Port Orchard by none other than Tony Reed, who’d also go on to record, mix and master the trio’s second outing, 2006′s Hitchhiking to Oblivion (released on Heavy Hermit Records). Reed, bassist Eric Seipp and guitarist/vocalist Joe White trace a common lineage back to mid-’90s death metal outfit Woodrot, and in some of the warmth of bass on Hitchhiking to Oblivion tracks like “The Longhair,” one can hear the roots of Stone Axe starting to coalesce.
Golden Pig Electric Blues Band were their own entity however, and at times they were surprisingly heavy. The cover of “Tomorrow Never Knows” (I can’t imagine a scenario in which they didn’t know that Trouble already did the song, so call it a double-tribute if you want) from the first album and the “Electric Funeral”-ized “Apehanger Messiah” from the second are both sharpened with a metal edge, and while sometimes the vocals of White and drummer Jerome Seipp are laid back and dry enough to remind me of Against Nature‘s ultra-chill modus, the tones are heavier and Jerome hits hard on the drums even behind a boogie rocker like “Vol. 4″ or the harmonica-infused blues number “The Basilisk.”
To the best of my knowledge, the band was last heard from on Small Stone‘s 2009 digital-only Northwest Mind Meld compilation, put together by Van Conner (VALIS/Screaming Trees). Their two tracks included there were highlights (review here), but Eric and Joe both play in the Sabbath tribute band Luke’s Wall (Reed‘s in there as well), and as Woodrot came out of their retirement for some shows at the end of the last decade, it’s pretty clear that when it comes to these guys, nothing is quite ever off the table. As I was recently fortunate enough to have both the Golden Pig Electric Blues Band records come into my possession, I figured I’d pass along the recommendation for anyone else who finds themselves in the position of perpetually having room in their heart for sincere, tonally rich Sabbath worship. Consider this that recommendation, and check out “Mizz Marvel” from the first record below: