Posted in Whathaveyou on October 20th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
Seattle four-piece Un — as in “the opposite of a thing” — will make their full-length debut via Black Bow Records on Dec. 4 with The Tomb of all Things, an answer to the morose promise of two prior demos that showcased doomly atmospherics and grinding extremity in kind. Pummel one way or another, and an endorsement from Jon Davis of Conan, who runs Black Bow, is never a bad way to start out. Interested to hear how the album relates to the demo tracks, or if it does, but either way, if you’re not introduced, there’s no time like the present to become so.
The PR wire puts it thusly:
Black Bow Records to release Un debut
Black Bow Records is pleased to announce that they will release the debut album of Seattle’s Un, The Tomb of All Things. The album is 5 tracks of funeral doom featuring veterans of Seattle’s music scene, including Monte McCleery of Samothrace.
Black Bow Records owner Jon Davis (also of doom band Conan) had the following to say in regards to the release:
“We are pleased to announce the signing of Seattle black hole creators UN. A darker, more melancholy and heavy band does not exist today and we’re pleased that they wish to call Black Bow Records home. Their new release ‘The Tomb of All Things’ will blow your mind and gives everything that heavy music is lacking today. Effortless devastation.”
About Un: Originally formed as a 3-piece in the summer of 2012, the band combined their collective experiences and influences to create a unique blend of Doom and Post-Metal. After two self-released demos in 2013 and numerous performances around the Northwest, the band eventually expanded to add a second guitarist, further developing their sonic palette.
Utilizing thundering fuzz-trodden rhythms and cavernous reverb-soaked clean sections, the quartet continues pushing forth to forge a dynamic, immersive experience. “We wanted to create something more than just a ‘funeral doom’ record,” says Monte, the band’s guitarist/vocalist. “Our main concern was writing songs that are emotionally relatable without compromising atmosphere or intensity.” After unleashing The Tomb Of All Things in the fall of 2015 on Black Bow Records and plans to tour throughout 2016, Un’s cosmic vessel of melancholy and realisation will only continue to soar through the infinite cosmos… towards whatever end may wait.
Un is: Monte McCleery David Wright Clayton Wolff Andrew Jamieson
Album credits: Recorded & Mixed by Jon Lervold at Big Name Studio Vocals recorded by James Kelso at Screaming Monkey Studio Mastered by James Plotkin Artwork by Sam Nelson Layout by Alex Eastman
Posted in Reviews on October 13th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
From the opening guitar howls and languid bassline that begin opener “Building a Haunted House,” West Coast (Seattle and Los Angeles) outfit Snail quickly affirm a shift in focus on Feral, their fourth album. It comes coupled with a few noteworthy changes in circumstance. Their story has been one of resurgence since first getting back together to release their sophomore album, Blood (review here), on MeteorCity in 2009 as the four-piece of guitarist/vocalist Mark Johnson, guitarist Eric Clausen, bassist/recording engineer Matt Lynch and drummer Marty Dodson. Blood arrived some 16 years after their 1993 self-titled debut (review here), which had only previously received follow-up in 1994’s All Channels are Open EP, then the swansong for the original trio of Johnson, Lynch and Dodson.
In 2012, the four-piece Snail returned with a fresh batch of material in the form of the more straightforward, bigger-riffed and independently-released Terminus (review here), which despite its ominous title was not the end of the band nor of their creative progression, as their new album, Feral, demonstrates. It is their first for Small Stone Records and topped off with cover art by Seldon Hunt, it’s also their first post-reunion release to feature only the band’s three founding members, Clausen and the remaining trio having parted ways in 2013. That in itself is probably the biggest change as regards the eight-song/47-minute offering — much of what has made Snail‘s work so enjoyable these last six years holds firm — but a generally less aggressive vibe than what they showed on Terminus serves them remarkably well throughout Feral‘s span, and from the moment the dreamy roll of “Building a Haunted House” takes hold, Snail enact a fluidity that carries through the rest of the tracks while also veering through changes in tempo and mood to enrich the listening experience. I am a fan of the band, but to be blunt, Feral is easily among the best records I’ve heard this year.
“Building a Haunted House” ends big and noisy, and “Smoke the Deathless” provides immediate contrast in a thickened shuffle that also heralds one of the catchiest choruses on offer, pulling back the forward drive to thrust into more open-sounding chug, backing vocals behind Johnson — both Lynch and Dodson contribute vocals throughout; Lynch also keyboards — preceding a quick lead that finds Johnson stepping up with no trouble as the lone six-stringer in the group. Blink and you’re in the chorus again, and blink again and “Smoke the Deathless”‘ 3:35 are up, Snail building considerable momentum into the middle-ground groove of “A Mustard Seed,” which brings back Clausen for a guest spot on rhythm guitar, the mix thick and encompassing with the rumble of Lynch‘s bass and Dodson‘s hi-hat cutting through even as his ride seems to add to the wash.
Another hook enters a quick build that cuts back to the verse — which one might almost be tempted to call “bouncing” if it weren’t so substantial; elephants don’t bounce — and ends even quicker than did “Smoke the Deathless,” but if Snail seem to be working at a sprint, it’s all a setup. A brilliant setup, but a setup all the same. Already they’ve gone from the repurposed ’80s metallisms of Terminus into more heavy psych-rocking fare, keeping a forward-moving core, but generally paying more attention to atmosphere, and much to the benefit of the songs, which remain grounded in engaging choruses despite this spaciousness. Well, the 10-minute “Thou art That” throws the formula out the window, and (wonderfully) slams into a wall of engrossing, moody psychedelic rock and features the most complex structure Snail have proffered to-date as well as the central riff of the album, which is a chorus unto itself. Starting quiet and unfolding gracefully until the keys and grandiose hits finish out, it’s the kind of cut that, on its own, can make a record, and brings to mind the best of what Snail have done since their reactivation, bridging a gap between heavy-as-hell riffing and more ethereal sonic spaces.
I have to believe that’s where the side breaks for the vinyl, and the aftermath of “Thou art That” is nothing if not a moment worthy of a breather to flip a platter. I also have to believe that when it comes to following up such a landmark track, it’s experience that led Snail to put “Born in Captivity” in the next spot, Dodson‘s drums serving as a we’re-not-done-yet signal that picks up a speedier pace and carries through an almost garage-punk boogie that seems to recall “Smoke the Deathless” until in its second half it transitions into an almost Beatlesian keyboard line for a bridge that adds a touch of classic weirdness to the otherwise forward motion, smoothing back into the chorus, which comes to incorporate that same line as it makes its way toward the end, cutting out finally to give the guitar the final say just before the five-minute mark, at which point Dodson and Lynch begin “Derail,” a slower, bigger and doomier feature for Johnson‘s lead work that conjures a wash in deep-running layers of guitar and bass and then cuts them down suddenly to give the chug of the verse total sway, balancing one off the other until finally at the end everything turns to noise.
The penultimate “Psilocybe” starts with a sense of heft worthy of Torche, and plods its beginning as the initial movement of a steady roll and nod that takes hold and does not let go for the first several minutes, even through a classy, melodic chorus, until at about the three-minute mark Snail break almost to silence and start a psychedelic build that carries them through the next two minutes until the next verse resumes the roll. The second time around, the turn is into a plotted-sounding jam, or an instrumental break at very least, that’s met with strange whispering voices, watery effects, more keys — Lynch plays a huge role atmospherically — and as the track devolves, that steady thunderplod from the beginning. After an extended wash of an outro, Feral almost sounds like it’s over, but the funky wah that commences a lonely tale in “Come Home” — its depressive lyric delivered in a soulful melody that makes the actual listening experience much more than the downer it might otherwise be — is a last-minute turn that winds up expanding the entire scope for the album as a whole, making it not only an easily-justified inclusion, but serving a genuine purpose to the record’s benefit.
A last hook, “Come home girl, I need you/You calm the voice in my head,” etc., brings together classic soul longing with a heavy rock push, once again bolstered by Lynch‘s keys, and rounds out Feral with a gorgeous, organ-laced last melodic dive into surrounds-your-head psychedelia, which has been the specialty all along. As Snail have moved past the novelty of their initial reunion, they’ve managed to amass a steady following, and Feral will no doubt add to that, but more importantly, it shows that even in the inevitably rawer form of a trio, they’re more than able and more than willing to continue to grow their sound and develop their approach. The final result is that Feral is as full creatively as it is sonically, and that four albums in, Snail are still ready to explore new ground and incorporate that into their own immediately recognizable context. It is their finest work to-date, and only seems to set up continued future expansion.
Posted in Whathaveyou on September 29th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
Well, my growing list of albums to look forward to in the New Year gets another name added to it today with the word come down that Seattle’s Ancient Warlocks have handed in the masters for their next full-length to NJ-based STB Records, who’ll be handling the release early in 2016. No word on whether Lay Bare Recordings, which did a European pressing to complement STB‘s award-winning US run of Ancient Warlocks‘ 2014 self-titled debut (review here), will be involved in what’s been revealed as being titled II, but it looks like we have a few months before we get to the release, so plenty of time to find out.
In the interim, STB is also overseeing a final pressing of that self-titled LP, dubbed the “Funeral Press” and boasting revamped artwork and other extras. The band recently gave some details and posted a live clip of a song called “Seven Eight” which will appear in some reworked fashion on II. Here goes:
YES! It’s official!!!
The mastered audio tracks have been turned over to STB Records for the Ancient Warlocks II LP! There will be an STB Records “Funeral Press” of the 1st LP very soon, with some new goodies, and then there will be a release of the 2nd LP in early 2016. Cheers!
The “Funeral Press” of the “s/t” debut LP will be coming out on STB Records soon. It will feature a new layout, pullout poster, flexi single, download code, and more! After that, the Ancient Warlocks II LP will be coming out!!! 7 new songs! So… to give you a little taste of some of the new stuff while we’re all waiting, here is a live at Big Sound Productions video by Chris Mathews Jr. (Joonior Studios). This song is called “Seven Eight”, and a different recorded version of this song will be on the 2nd LP. Cheers!
(“ANCIENT WARLOCKS II” LP) Steve Jones: Drums Darren Chase: Rhythm Guitar Aaron Krause: Lead Vocals & Lead Guitar Anthony “Oni” Timm: Bass
Posted in Reviews on September 28th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
Truth be told, I’ve been looking forward to this Quarterly Review since the last one ended. Not necessarily since it clears the deck on reviews to be done — it doesn’t — but just because I feel like in any given week there’s so much more that I want to get to than I’m usually able to fit into posting that it’s been good to be able to say, “Well I’ll do another Quarterly Review and include it there.” Accordingly, there are some sizable releases here, today and over the next four days as well.
If you’re unfamiliar with the project, the idea is over the course of this week, I’ll be reviewing 50 different releases — full albums, EPs, demos, comps, splits, vinyl, tape, CD, digital, etc. Most of them have come out since the last Quarterly Review, which went up early in July, but some are still slated for Oct. or Nov. issue dates. Best to mix it up. My hope is that within this barrage of info, art and music, you’re able to find something that stands out to you and that you enjoy deeply. I know I’ll find a few by the time we’re done on Friday.
Fall 2015 Quarterly Review #1-10:
Steve Von Till, A Life unto Itself
A new Steve Von Till solo outing isn’t a minor happening in any circumstances, but A Life unto Itself reads more like a life event than an album. As ever, the Neurosis guitarist/vocalist puts a full emotional breadth into his material, and as it’s his first record in seven years since 2008’s A Grave is a Grim Horse, there’s plenty to say. Sometimes minimal, sometimes arranged, sometimes both, the seven tracks feature little of the psychedelic influence Von Till brought to his Harvestman project, but use lap steel, strings, electrics, acoustics, keys and of course his meditative, gravelly voice to convey a broad spectrum nonetheless, and cuts like “Chasing Ghosts,” “In Your Wings” and the centerpiece “Night of the Moon” (which actually does veer into the ethereal, in its way) are all the more memorable for it. The richness of “A Language of Blood” and the spaciousness of the drone-meets-sea-shanty closer “Known but Not Named” only underscore how far Von Till is able to range, and how satisfying the results can be when he does.
Bizarro vibes pervade Devil Worshipper’s debut LP, Devil Worshipper, what may or may not be a one-man project from Jeff Kahn (ex-Hideous Corpse, Skeleton of God; spelled here as Jevf Kon), mixed by Tad Doyle and released on Holy Mountain. Based in Seattle (that we do know), the project wields molten tones and slow groove to classic underground metal, heavy psych and bleary moods to hit into oddly cinematic moodiness on “Ash Brume” and even nod at Celtic Frost from a long ways away on closer “Lurker (Death).” Most of the drums are programmed, save for “New Spirit World Order,” “Ash Brume” and “Lurker,” but either way, they only add to the weirdness of the chanting layered vocals of “New Spirit World Order,” and just when it seems like eight-minute second track “Chemrails” will have been as far out as Devil Worshipper gets, side B’s “Desert Grave” takes hold for a five-minute dirge that turns out to be one of the record’s most satisfying rolls, reminiscent of something Rob Crow might’ve done with Goblin Cock on downers. Unexpected and living well in its own space, the album manages to be anchored by its lead guitar work without seeming anchored at all.
So, how many guitars on London trio Dr. Crazy’s 13-minute/four-song EP, 1,000 Guitars? Two, I think. The side-project of Groan vocalist Andreas “Mazzereth” Maslen and Chris West, formerly the drummer of Trippy Wicked and Stubb who here plays guitar and bass while Groan’s former guitarist Mike Pilat handles drums, make a bid for the possibility of playing live in bringing in Pilat to fill the role formerly occupied remotely by Tony Reed of Mos Generator on their 2014 debut EP, Demon Lady. Whether that happens will remain to be seen, but they affirm their ‘80s glam leanings on “Bikini Woman” and keep the message simple on opener “Hands off My Rock and Roll” while “1,000 Guitars” makes the most of guest lead work from Stubb’s Jack Dickinson – he’s the second guitar, alongside West – and yet another infectious Mazzereth-led hook, and well, “Mistress of Business” starts out by asking the titular lady to pull down her pants, so, you know, genius-level satire ensues.
An aggressive core lies beneath the progressivism of German five-piece Linie (actually written as ?inie) on their debut full-length, What We Make Our Demons Do, but the material holds a sense of atmosphere as well. Vocalist/guitarist Jörn is very much at the fore of post-intro opener “Blood on Your Arms,” but as the crux of the album plays out on the chug-happy “Lake of Fire” and “No Ideal,” Linie showcase a wider breadth and bring together elements of post-hardcore à la Fugazi, darker heavy rock and purposefully brooding metal. Comprised of Jörn, guitarist/vocalist Alex, bassist/vocalist Ralph, drummer/vocalist Alex and keyboardist Iggi, the band impress on their first offering with not only how assured they seem of their aesthetic, but the expansive manner in which they present it. Their songwriting is varied in approach but unified in mood and while I don’t know what has them so pissed off on a cut like “Inability,” there’s no question whether they’re putting that anger to good use.
Austrian trio The Heavy Minds make their full-length debut on Stone Free with Treasure Coast, a seven-cut LP that fuzzes up ‘70s swing without going the full-Graveyard in retro vibe. “You’ve Seen it Coming” seems to nod at Radio Moscow, but a more overarching vibe seems to share ideology with Baltimore three-piece The Flying Eyes, the classic rock sensibilities given natural presentation through a nonetheless modern feel in the tracks. The bass tone of Tobias (who also plays guitar at points) alone makes Treasure Coast worth hunting down, but doesn’t prove to be the limit of what the young outfit have to offer, drummer Christoph swinging fluidly throughout “Diamonds of Love” in a manner that foreshadows the emergent roll of “Seven Remains.” That song is part of a closing duo with “Fire in My Veins,” which boasts a satisfying bluesy howl from guitarist Lukas, rounding out Treasure Coast with an organic openness that suits the band well.
Momentum is key when it comes to Road Warriors, the new full-length from Detroit four-piece Against the Grain. They amass plenty of it as they thrust into the 12-track/38-minute rager of an outing, but there are changes to be had in tempo if not necessarily intent. Comprised of bassist/vocalist Chris Nowak, guitarist/vocalist Kyle Davis, guitarist Nick Bellomo and drummer Rob Nowak, the band actually seems more comfortable on fifth-gear cuts like “’Til We Die,” “What Happened,” the first half of “Afraid of Nothing” or the furious “Run for Your Life” than they do in the middle-ground of “Guillotine” and “Night Time,” but slowing down on “Sirens” and “Eyes” allows them to flex a more melodic muscle, and that winds up enriching the album in subtle and interesting ways. If you want a clue as to the perspective from which they’re working, they start with “Here to Stay” and end with “Nothing Left to Lose.” Everything between feels suitably driven by that mission statement.
Angel Eyes, Things Have Learnt to Walk that Ought to Crawl
With the ‘t’ and the ‘ought’ in its title, Angel Eyes’ posthumous third full-length, Things Have Learnt to Walk that Ought to Crawl, brims with oddly rural threat. Like the things are people. The Chicago outfit unfold two gargantuan cascades of atmosludge on “Part I” (15:54) and “Part II” (19:18), pushing their final recording to toward and beyond recommended minimums and maximums as regards intensity. They called it quits in 2011, so to have the record surface four years later and be as blindsidingly cohesive as it is actually makes it kind of a bummer, since it won’t have a follow-up, but the work Angel Eyes are doing across these two tracks – “Part I” getting fully blown-out before shifting into the quiet opening of “Part II” – justifies the time it’s taken for it to be released. They were signed to The Mylene Sheath, but Things is an independent, digital-only outing for the time being, though its structure and cover feel ripe for vinyl. Who knows what the future might bring.
Textured, hypnotic and downright gorgeous in its psychedelic melancholy, Baron’s Torpor is a record that a select few will treasure deeply and fail to understand the problem as to why the rest of the planet isn’t just as hooked. A thoroughly British eight-track full-length – their second, I believe, but first for Svart – Torpor creates and captures spaces simultaneously on organ-infused pieces like “Mark Maker,” executing complex transitions fluidly and feeding into an overarching ambience that, by the time they get around to the eight-minute “Stry,” is genuinely affecting in mood and beautifully engrossing. The Brighton/Nottingham four-piece fuzz out a bit on “Deeper Align,” but the truth is that Torpor has much more to offer than a single genre encapsulates and those that miss it do so to their own detriment. I mean that. Its patience, its poise and its scope make Torpor an utter joy of progressive flourish and atmosphere with a feel that is entirely its own. I could go on.
So get this. For their first EP, Swedish trio Creedsmen Arise – guitarist Emil, drummer Simon and bassist Gustaf (since replaced by Jonte) – have taken it upon themselves to pen a sequel to Sleep’s Dopesmoker that, “tells the story about what happened centuries after the Dopesmoker Caravan and it’s [sic] Weedians reached their destination.” Admirably ballsy terrain for the three-piece to tread their first time out. It’s like, “Oh hey, here’s my first novel – it’s Moby Dick from the whale’s perspective.” The three tracks of the Temple EP are fittingly schooled in Iommic studies, but the band almost undercuts itself because they don’t just sound like Sleep. They have their own style. Yeah, it’s riffy stoner metal, but it’s not like they’re doing an Al Cisneros impression on vocals, so while the concept is derived directly, the sound doesn’t necessarily completely follow suit. Between the 10-minute opening title- and longest-track (immediate points), “Herbal Burial” and “Circle of Clergymen,” Creedsmen Arise make perhaps a more individualized statement than they intended, but it’s one that bodes well.
Nola’s cool and all, but when it comes to the nastiest, most misanthropic, fucked-up sludge, choosy moms choose Ohio, and Deadly Sin (Sloth) are a potent example of why. Their Demo Discography tape revels in its disconcerting extremity and seems to grind regardless of whether the Xenia, OH, trio are actually playing fast. Comprised of Jay Snyder, Wilhelm Princeton and Kyle Hughes, Deadly Sin (Sloth) cake themselves in mud that will be familiar to anyone who’s witnessed Fistula on a bender or Sloth at their most pill-popping, but do so with sub-lo-fi threat on the tape and are so clearly intentional in their effort to put the listener off that one could hardly call their demos anything but a victory. Will not be for everyone, but of course that’s the idea. This kind of viciousness is a litmus test that would do justice to any basement show, maddening in its nod and mean well beyond the point of reason.
Posted in Whathaveyou on September 17th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
Those rascally Melvins kicked off their latest run through the UK and Europe a couple nights ago, having once again joined forces with Jared Warren and Coady Willis from Big Business, and the long-running specialists-in-the-zany have newly announced the release of Across the USA in 51 Days: The Movie!, which chronicles their 2012 tour playing all 50 states plus Washington D.C. between Sept. and Oct. 2012. It’ll be out on DVD, presumably through Ipecac, on Nov. 13. Please note, this is not the same as the Melvins documentary The Colossus of Destiny – A Melvins Tale, which successfully beat its crowdfunding target earlier this year.
Take it, PR wire:
THE MELVINS RELEASE ACROSS THE USA IN 51 DAYS: THE MOVIE!, RELEASED NOV 13; ON TOUR NOW
The Melvins, who are currently in the midst of a European tour, flash back to their 2012 attempt at a world record setting tour of the United States (plus DC) with the Nov. 13 DVD release of Across The USA in 51 Days: The Movie!
The tour launched on Sept. 5, 2012 from Anchorage, Alaska and wrapped up fifty-one days later, Oct. 25, on the sunny shores of Honolulu, Hawaii. “We figured it was time for us to do something REALLY crazy,” Buzz Osborne said at the time of the band’s transcontinental trek. The band documented the outing via Spin and also through a collection of never-before-seen video footage.
Check out the full tour itinerary below from one of the world’s most active touring bands:
September 16 Tilburg, Netherlands Incubate Festival September 18 Angers, France La Chabada September 19 Paris, France La Bataclan September 20 Belfort, France Poudriere September 21 Koln, Germany Underground September 22 Hamburg, Germany LOGO September 23 Bremen, Germany Lagerhaus September 24 Berlin, Germany Berghain September 25 Leipzig, Germany UT Connewitz September 26 Prague, Czech Republic Futurm September 27 Budapest, Hungary A38 September 28 Austria, Bezirk Landstrasse Arena Wien September 29 Zagreb, Croatia Mochvara September 30 Bologna, Italy Locomotiv Club October 1 Milan, Italy Leoncavallo October 2 Lyon, France L’Epicerie Modern October 3 Pratteln, Switzerland Up In Smoke Fest October 5 Munich, Germany Feierwerk October 6 Frankfurt, Germany Zoom October 8 Reading, UK Sub89 October 9 Manchester, UK Gorilla October 10 London, UK Electric Ballroom October 24 Los Angeles, CA The Echo October 31 Los Angeles, CA The Echo
Posted in audiObelisk on September 14th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
Seattle progressive heavy rockers He Whose Ox is Gored release their debut full-length, The Camel, the Lion, the Child, on Oct. 9 through Bleeding Light Records (LP/DL) and Breathe Plastic Records (tape). The album follows a couple of shorter releases — EPs like 2014’s Nightshade and Rumors (review here) — that have helped spread the word and develop the four-piece’s particular brand of weighted and atmospheric plundering, but the substantial feel throughout the eight-track/51-minute LP defies the “debut album” stereotype for how assured the band sounds and for how solidified their aesthetic seems to be. Tracked by Robert Cheek with additional recording by Randall Dunn and mixed by Matt Bayles, it is as satisfying in its textured feel as in its level of impact, songs like “Omega” slamming hard into the consciousness even as they seem to be expanding their own context through fluid rhythmic turns, overarching washes of synth and vocal arrangements.
Ultimately held together by the foundation provided by bassist Mike Sparks and drummer John O’Connell, The Camel, the Lion, the Child fades in gradually with an immediate eerie synth line and tapped guitar, the former provided by Lisa Mungo and the latter by Brian McClelland, both of whom also contribute vocals. It’s a tense start to the record and that’s clearly on purpose, the band thinking more about the album front-to-back than any single track’s impression. A series of one-word titles leads to the finale “Weighted by Guilt, Crushed by a Diamond,” with “Oathbreaker” doling out near-frenetic rhythmic turns sans mathy-pretense, McClelland‘s few lines shouted deep in the mix but still blown out, before the aforementioned “Omega” takes hold, introduces waves of synth and the ambience they’ll come to add throughout. That song builds to an apex satisfying melodically and in its heft, but the subsequent “Crusade” pushes further, starting melodic before unfolding The Camel, the Lion, the Child‘s most progressive interplay of vocals between Mungo and McClelland — is there such a thing as post-post-hardcore? — and setting a theme of multiple-element cohesion that continues through the following “Zelatype” to round out side A in a manner both emotionally resonant and otherworldly.
Having so thoroughly engulfed the listener with its first half, He Whose Ox is Gored set about further developing the progression across side B, with “Alpha” starting on a slow fade to mirror “Oathbreaker” but keeping a more post-rock vibe to complement its guitar noodles, which will be a recurring theme throughout the following “Magazina” and “Cairo,” both of which feel more patient than their counterparts, “Magazina” in particular calling to mind a more lush vision of earlier Kylesa, still set to land heavy with O’Connell‘s pervasive thud, but in less of a rush, Mungo shouting at the fore backed by McClelland, winding riffs leading the way to a finish and the quiet start of “Cairo,” which develops in layers of guitar and keys across its first two minutes before righteous, angular plod takes hold with synth on top to push The Camel, the Lion, the Child to its crescendo — all the more stunning in headphones for the deeply buried vocals and the gorgeous mix-placement of the keys in the mix — the closer “Weighted by Guilt, Crushed into a Diamond” offering a suitable apex of its own but accomplishing even more in its atmosphere and slow-rolling immersion.
He Whose Ox is Gored have put in some obviously-valuable road time over the last couple years, so maybe it’s not such a shocker that The Camel, the Lion, the Child would be so assured of its goals and so up to the ambitious task it sets for itself, but taken across its span, it still feels surprising just how far beyond expectation the band go in their songwriting and in their big-picture conceptual construction. That is to say, I expected the record to be good, and it’s a better album than I expected.
All the more, then, I’m very happy to be hosting the premiere of “Crusade” from the album, which again, is out Oct. 9. Find it below, followed by more info and linkery, and enjoy:
Titled The Camel, The Lion, The Child, the eight-track, near hour-long sound exhibition was tracked at Red Room and Ex Ex Audio in Seattle by Robert Cheek (Serial Hawk, Noise-A-Tron etc.) with additional recording taking place at Avast Studios with Randall Dunn (Sunn O))), Earth, etc). Matt Bayles (Isis, Mastodon etc.) handled mixing duties and frequent collaborator, Blake Bickel, mastered the album at Dynamic Sound Service.
Both sonically and conceptually engrossing, with The Camel, The Lion, The Child HE WHOSE OX IS GORED — Brian McClelland (guitar, vocals), Lisa Mungo (synths, keyboards, vocals), Mike Sparks (bass) and John O’Connell (drums) – transcend musical boundaries with their meticulous yet organically-executed amalgam of technical guitar compositions and atmospheric synth over a pummeling rhythm section manifesting a uniquely cinematic soundscape that paints a world ready to thrash and burn.
Elaborates McClelland of the band’s latest output: “The Camel, The Lion, The Child is a cup that runs over. From the writing process and through the studio, we made it a point to make the record that we wanted. The songs grow and breathe with their own lives and personalities, and unfold with layers that surprise us to this day. The excellent engineering and mixing of Robert Cheek and Matt Bayles raised the bar, and pushed us to make the best record we could. Now, we share it with you.”
Posted in audiObelisk on September 10th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
Seattle trio Serial Hawk release their debut full-length, Searching for Light, on Sept. 18 via Bleeding Light Records. The four-track, 38-minute LP splits neatly into two sides, but that’s pretty much where the “easy” ends, unless you count the apparent simplicity with which the three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Will Bassin, bassist Adam Holbrook and drummer Sean Bulkley enact a groove on top of nodding riffage. The bulk of Searching for Light is very, very heavy, and I’m not going to take that away from it, but even more than the weight of its impact or the edge of bombast in rolling opener “Desolate” that reminds ever so slightly of defunct chaosbringers Akimbo, Searching for Light is immersive. More than that. It’s a record that opens wide and takes you in as it sets out on this course, sometimes fluid, sometimes jagged, loud, quiet, shouting, mourning, on and on across this river of contrasts that are made to work smoothly with each other.
Side A brings three tracks in “Desolate” (9:06), the shorter “Lying in Wait” (3:55) and “Of Decay” (7:05), and side B is comprised entirely of the 18-minute title cut. Throughout, the band benefits greatly from the natural recording style of engineer/mixer Robert Cheek (Chelsea Wolfe, Tera Melos) at Red Room Studios and ExEx Audio, but it’s more about the changes in the songs themselves, which work on top of a foundation of newer-school heavy riffs without losing a sense of atmosphere only bolstered by the strange, eerie realness of Samantha Muljat and Sara Winkle‘s cover art. In being sandwiched by “Desolate” and “Of Decay,” “Lying in Wait” could have easily come across as an afterthought or an interlude, but it’s a major factor in the ambience of the record overall, and some of the slower, crashing movements around the halfway point in “Of Decay” seem to be mirroring similar ideas, layers of guitar teasing melody through the pummel and expanding the breadth even further as Serial Hawk make their way toward a how-did-we-get-here final movement of plodding lumber.
All of this, of course, pushes the band toward the inevitable focus point that is “Searching for Light” itself. The title-track, closer and longest singular piece is as ambitious as it is sprawling, but still maintains its landing force, pushing through a minimal, quiet opening into a patient stretch that sets up the build to the album’s final payoff, every bit worthy of the investment of time and the punches to the gut Serial Hawk deliver along the way. It’s the kind of debut that makes it easy to forget it’s a debut, but I have my doubts that the band are finished working in long-form songwriting. If they wanted to, there’s nothing evident here that makes me think they couldn’t get up to a single-song album. They’re halfway there, and while they’ve worked hard to get to this point across a prior demo, EP, live record and single, as well as several cross-country tours, they’re still really just at another starting line with Searching for Light. One hopes they continue searching.
I’m thrilled today to be able to host the premiere for “Of Decay,” which as standard procedure dictates you’ll find on the Soundcloud embed below. Beneath that, you can dig into the dates for Serial Hawk‘s upcoming release tour, which starts Oct. 1 and will once again take them from coast to coast. Have riffs, will travel.
Seattle, Washington’s hypnotically heavy three-piece sludge/doom act SERIAL HAWK will release their long-awaited debut, Searching For Light, via Bleeding Light Records September 18th. The band’s penchant for punishing, building riffs and reputation for bringing live audiences to their knees with a wall of sound has been encapsulated in this long-awaited album, which will be available on vinyl, CD, and digital download.
Serial Hawk on tour: 10/01 – Boise, ID – The Shredder 10/02 – Salt Lake City, UT – The Underground 3 10/03 – Laramie, WY – Baby Hospice 10/04 – Colorado Springs, CO – Flux Capacitor 10/05 – Omaha, NE – O’leavers 10/06 – Minneapolis, MN – The Hexagon 10/07 – Chicago, IL – Burlington Bar 10/08 – Dayton, OH – Blind Bobs 10/09 – Syracuse, NY – Gorham Brothers Music 10/10 – New Haven, CT – Crunch House 10/11 – Brooklyn, NY – The Acheron 10/12 – Philadelphia, PA – TBD 10/13 – Washington, D.C. – The Pinch 10/14 – Atlanta, GA – The Basement 10/15 – Birmingham, AL – The Firehouse 10/16 – Houston, TX – Rudyard’s 10/17 – Austin, TX – Sat – The Lost Well 10/18 – TBD 10/19 – Santa Fe, NM – The Cave 10/20 – Phoenix, AZ – Yucca Tap Room 10/21 – San Diego, CA – Tower Bar 10/22 – Oakland, CA – Golden Bull 10/23 – Sacramento, CA – Cafe Colonial
Posted in Whathaveyou on September 1st, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
By the time Snail‘s new album, Feral, arrives, it will be almost six months to the day since the Seldon Hunt artwork was premiered here. That is not an insignificant stretch, but until you actually hear it you’re just going to have to take my word for it when I say it’s worth every second of the wait. After a strong comeback outing in 2009’s Blood (review here) and a definitive step forward in 2012’s Terminus (review here), Feral takes Snail‘s songwriting to places it hasn’t yet been and retains a sense of laid back heaviness and melodicism that has become their signature these last six years. If you don’t already have it on your gotta-hear list, put it there.
The PR wire brings affirmation, the preorder link, a bio I’m pretty sure that I wrote, the tracklisting and the stream for “Building a Haunted House,” which opens the record. Dig in:
Seattle psych metal trio SNAIL return with fourth album “Feral”, this month on Small Stone Records.
Seattle based psych metal forerunners SNAIL are making a great comeback with their heavy, hazy and stirring fourth record “Feral”, to be released this September on Small Stone Records.
Stream SNAIL’s intoxicating new song Building A Haunted House
SNAIL formed in 1992 in Los Angeles, consisting of singer Mark Johnson (The Crucified, PASTE, Blessing the Hogs), bassist Matt Lynch and drummer Marty Dodson. The eponymous first album (Big Deal Records) garnered much praise in the press, and gained a loyal following from peers, leading to the DIY, 4-track cassette-recorded All Channels are Open EP, after which SNAIL sadly succumbed to the “sex, drugs, and rock and roll” lifestyle and eroded to the point of breaking up.
After 15 years’ absence, SNAIL reunited in 2008 with longtime friend and guitarist Eric Clausen as a fourth member, and unleashed Blood (Meteor City), which was among the highest-rated heavy rock records of 2009, combining fuzzy guitars and a pummeling rhythm section with layered, soaring melodies rarely heard in the genre. In a time of industry turmoil, the record went from blood-red to “in the black,” even attracting the attention of underground music legend Henry Rollins, who gave it multiple plays on his “Fanatics” radio show on influential Los Angeles station KCRW.
SNAIL’s 2012 follow-up, Terminus, showcased all fresh material, infused with the enthusiasm of newly-minted collaboration. Influences that were not evident in past works came to the fore, steeped in old-school metal and psychedelia. The subject matter was noticeably more mature, delving into the themes of mortality and its implications in our modern world. From crushing doom to head-bobbing Camaro rock and hypnotic psych, Terminus was SNAIL’s most varied work to date; but most importantly, it rocked.
With the challenge of a “first new album” behind them, SNAIL set to work on Feral, their fourth full-length and first for Small Stone. Taking the varied approach of Terminus to new degrees of psychedelia and sonic heft, songs like “Smoke the Deathless” and “Thou Art That” epitomize the weighted melodic appeal of the band, while closer “Come Home” steps forward in its brazen emotionalism. Topped off with mind-bending artwork by Seldon Hunt, Feral is their best work to date, demonstrates the progressive capacity of the once-again trio of Johnson, Lynch and Dodson, and shows that Blood and Terminus may have just been the start of the wildness to come.