Death Penalty to Release Self-Titled Debut in September

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 21st, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Capital punishment is fucked.

Today is the official release date for the debut seven-inch from Death Penalty, the new band featuring former Cathedral guitarist Gaz Jennings along with vocalist Michelle Nocon and drummer Frederik Cosemans, both formerly of Belgian doom outfit Serpentcult. Together with bassist Raf Meukens, also of death metallers Torturerama, Jennings and company issue Sign of Times through Rise Above in a varied pressing of 500 copies ahead of a self-titled debut which is set to release in September.

That album will mark Jennings‘ first full-length outing since Cathedral met their end, and given his unearthly pedigree of riffing, it’ll be interesting to hear what he brings to this new project. As you can hear below, the single bodes well.

Ever-vigilant, the PR wire has details on the album and more background on how the band came together

Yup, that's a death penalty.

DEATH PENALTY (Featuring Gaz Jennings of Cathedral) to Release Self-Titled Debut on Rise Above Records September 16th in North America

Artwork and Track Listing Revealed

When all is said and done, the art of making people bang their heads comes down to one central component: the riff. The riff has been refined and redefined so many times over the last four decades that ownership of a guitar and half a brain should be all that’s required to at least have a decent stab at getting things right, and yet very few people seem capable of tapping into the true essence and ethos of what made Tony Iommi such an all-conquering pioneer and overlord of six-string power and glory. Over the last 25 years, discerning metal fans may have struggled to pinpoint any bona fide contemporary greats amongst the never-ending proliferation of also-rans and wannabes, but as chief composer and guitarist for UK doom metal legends Cathedral, Gaz Jennings has more than earned the mantle of the modern age’s most consistent and supremely talented Riffmaster General. A perennial unsung hero of the heavy underground, Gaz has already contributed a vast number of classic songs to the metallic canon, but when Cathedral finally called it a day in 2013 it looked as if another guitar hero was destined to disappear into the shadows. Gloriously, he has now returned with a brand new band, DEATH PENALTY, and an eponymous debut album that once again proves his absolute mastery of the form.

“When Cathedral split I didn’t have any intention of getting another band together,” Gaz admits. “I wanted to do a record, because Lee [Dorrian, Cathedral front man and Rise Above Records boss] has been saying for years that he’d give me a deal! But all my time was taken up writing stuff for Cathedral. I had a few bits and bobs lying around, so I started writing material a few years back and that’s where it all started. And now the album is ready to go.”

With such a formidable reputation to uphold, it was absolutely vital for Gaz to select the right musicians to work with in his new band. Enter vocalist Michelle Nocon and Fredrik ‘Cozy’ Cosemans, members of Belgian doom warriors Serpentcult; a band that Gaz greatly admires and fellow Rise Above alumni. Although resident in Belgium, Michelle and Cozy were simply the right people for the job and kindred spirits that Gaz suspected would be perfect for helping him to realize his new musical vision.

With the DEATH PENALTY line-up completed by the addition of another Belgian, bassist Raf Meukens, Gaz was now fully equipped to bring his new band into the spotlight. The first results emerged via a debut seven-inch single, Sign Of Times/Seven Flames, which showcased DEATH PENALTY’sfiery blend of old school heavy metal, subtle doom shades and Michelle Nocon’s extraordinary vocal talents. The real meat of the matter will be unveiled upon the release of the band’s self-titled debut album, a triumphant tour-de-force of pounding heaviness that brilliantly encapsulates everything that Gaz has brought to the table with Cathedral while veering off on a number of new and distinctly compelling tangents along the way. Fans of the NWOBHM era will find themselves instantly entranced by the likes of Howling At The Throne Of Decadence and Golden Tides, while diehard doom acolytes will be immediately reassured that Gaz’s ability to pen timeless riffs remains entirely undimmed, as demonstrated on the grandiose grit of Into The Ivory Frost and Children Of The Night.

The final piece of the puzzle slotted neatly into place when Gaz chose a name for the new band. Anyone that has followed the guitarist’s career over the years will recognise that DEATH PENALTY is the title of Witchfinder General’s classic 1982 debut album; a record that has long been an essential part of Gaz’s inspirational armoury. However, beyond paying homage to his childhood heroes, he freely confesses that the name was simply the first and only credible option and a telling alternative to the countless terrible band names currently doing the rounds.

Once DEATH PENALTY’s debut hits the shops (and the nebulous world of online retail, of course), it seems highly likely that everyone from Cathedral fans and old school diehards to new school doom and psych rock admirers will celebrate the arrival of another truly great heavy metal band for the modern age. Quite content to remain an underground concern, DEATH PENALTY are just beginning their journey into the outer limits of refined riff worship and Gaz Jennings’ hopes and expectations are every bit as humble and honest as long-time fans will expect.

Death Penalty Track Listing:
1. Grotesque Horizon
2. Howling at the Throne of Decadence
3. Eyes of the Heretic
4. Golden Tides
5. Into the Ivory Frost
6. Children of the Night
7. The One That Dwells
8. She is a Witch
9. Immortal by Your Hand
10. Written by the Insane

For More Info Visit:
http://www.riseaboverecords.com
https://www.facebook.com/riseaboverecords

Death Penalty, “Sign of Times” (2014)

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The Obelisk Radio Adds: Bongripper, We’re all Gonna Die, Sufferghost, Liquido di Morte, Planet of Zeus

Posted in Radio on July 18th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

The Obelisk Radio.

Click here to listen.

You may or may not have noticed, but on the updates page for The Obelisk Radio, you can now see the playlist for the entire day. Mad and thoroughly appreciated genius that he is, Slevin set it up so that even when a song doesn’t have an ID3 tag — as some of the older included mp3s obviously don’t — the filename itself appears, so you can still find out what was played. It goes back to July 10 now, because that’s when it was launched, but my understanding is it will just keep adding days, so there will be a full archive from here on out of what was played. I’ve been nerding out on it all week.

And primarily what it’s underscored for me is just how much good shit there is on that playlist. It’s unreal. Please feel free to peruse. Here’s some more stuff that just went up.

The Obelisk Radio Adds for July 18, 2014:

Bongripper, Miserable

Teefers.
Chicago four-piece Bongripper once more crawl out of the muck with another collection of lurching, extended instrumental tracks, proliferating malevolent riff worship and lumbering, head-slung hopelessness. Like Pelican‘s evil twin, they offer a couple catch-your-breath moments throughout “Endless” (somewhat ironically the shortest track at 17:49), “Descent” (18:52) and the insurmountably mammoth “Into Ruin” (28:25), but the bulk of their sixth album is dedicated to destructive crash and vicious low-toned riffing, and even when they drone out in the last six minutes of “Descent,” the mood remains dark and crushing. All the more fitting as a lead-in for “Into Ruin,” which has its own breaks for good measure but makes its impression more in the tectonic weight of its impact. Everything heavy. All heavy. Nothing not heavy. Bongripper have been at it for nearly a decade now, and they’ve only gotten meaner. Miserable gets bonus points for the Mike Miller cover art. One would be hard pressed to think of something more appropriate. Bongripper on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

We’re all Gonna Die, These are the Old Ways

They changed the cover since they first put this up, but I like the negative Wreck of the Minot artwork better. Sue me.
When Boston heavy rockers We’re all Gonna Die — the lineup of guitarist/vocalist Jim Healey (also Black Thai), bassist Jesse Sherman (also Never Got Caught) and drummer Scott Healey (also Gut) — announced their return a short while ago for three summer shows, they sent word of a new single “Pleurisy.” That single, included on These are the Old Ways, has been expanded to include a collection of previously unreleased cuts from the band’s history, resulting in the 24-minute These are the Old Ways. Lineups and recording vibes vary — the EP caps with two instrumentals that show off some solid riffs but are clearly incomplete demos — but “Pleurisy” itself and “I’m Free” showcase the driving, forward rhythms and Healey‘s towering vocals following the riff, and “The Day I Walked Away,” while rougher sounding, offers the most memorable hook of the release. Round it out with a cover of Lynyrd Skynyrd‘s “That Smell” and the aforementioned instrumentals “Small” and “Awash,” and These are the Old Ways adds intrigue to the new single and reminds of the variety that We’re all Gonna Die were always able to bring to their gritty, aggressive approach. We’re all Gonna Die on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Sufferghost, Thaw

Janga janga janga.
In historical hindsight, it’s tempting to think of Connecticut’s Sufferghost as a prelude to guitarist/vocalist Ron Vanacore and bassist Richard “Cheech” Weeden‘s work in Curse the Sun, but the truth is, it’s an entirely different band. Vanacore, still on vocals, plays drums on Sufferghost‘s recently-unearthed 2007 outing, Thaw, and the guitars are handled by Anthony Buhagiar, whose burst aortic aneurysm would effectively end the band in 2009, leading to the founding of Curse the Son. There are some consistencies of method between the two — riffs lead the way, albeit less tonally developed than Vanacore would be by the time Curse the Son put out 2012′s Psychache (review here), which has just been released on vinyl through STB Records — but Sufferghost had a musical personality of its own as well, and while “Leave the Church” offered stonerly roll, and “Neuralgia” engages righteous, mostly instrumental Sabbathizing, “Summer Insane” and the slower “Land of the None/Evilled” have some shades of burlier Black Label Society-style metal, and that’s terrain Vanacore and Weeden (who’ve been in bands together since the mid ’80s) have avoided in their subsequent act. Thaw makes you wonder what might’ve been had Sufferghost continued to develop, and gives listeners an opportunity to explore the roots from which Curse the Son sprouted. Sufferghost on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Planet of Zeus, Vigilante

Greece! That's where The Patient Mrs. is. Do you think it's coincidence?
Vigilante is the third LP from dudely Athens-based riffers Planet of Zeus, and while Clutch remains a primary influence, songs like “Burn this City Down,” “Tornado” and closer “The Beast Within” find the four-piece come into their own sound more than did 2011′s sophomore outing, Macho Libre. Still, moments will ring familiar, if roughened up, and the bluesy roll and organ of “No Tomorrow,” the gospel preaching of the title-track and the start-stop funk of “Second Coming” would seem to continue the pattern. They do it better than most who try, and for the touches of individuality, the impact of the production, and for the ease with which they move into instrumental psychedelia on “The Beast Within,” Vigilante (released on Ihaveadrum Records) makes a catchy endeavor for the already converted. Some of the harder-edged vocals from guitarist Babis might surprise, but it’s easy enough to get oriented throughout, and if Planet of Zeus have a more aggressive take on an established style, that only furthers their ability to stand out within it. Planet of Zeus on Thee Facebooks, Vigilante on Bandcamp.

Liquido di Morte, Liquido di Morte

Jammy hammy.
Made up of three recorded-live psychedelic jams that spread smoothly over the total runtime of 37 minutes, Northern Italy outfit Liquido di Morte‘s self-titled debut is marked out by some post-rock sensibilities in the guitar and the lead/rhythm dynamic that periodically merges into bigger, more lumbering grooves throughout. The double-guitar four-piece use samples or guest speakers for vocals and the feel across the tracks is pretty vast, but there’s also clearly a consciousness at work on opener “Ozric Pentacles,” and as the riffy largesse mounts backed by chaos swirls and loops, it’s hard not to be reminded of some of Ufomammut‘s earliest goings, though that’s just one element at work. “In Death of Space/Of Death in Space” pushes further with the plotted feel, a tension and intensity trading off as movements weave in and out and open and close, culminating in a noisy wash that only highlights how much Liquido di Morte have known all along where they were heading, and the 18-minute finale “144″ builds from an effects-laden early few minutes into their most hypnotic and consuming roll yet, spoken word guest vocals emerging late to pipe a last-minute sense of reality into what had clearly, by then, departed from it. A more than impressively cohesive first offering — all the more because it was recorded live — from a band whose potential is writ large in their material. Liquido di Morte on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

As ever, this isn’t even close to everything that joined The Obelisk Radio playlist this week. For the full list and to check out today’s playlist, visit the updates page.

Thanks for reading and listening.
 

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Brimstone Coven Stream “Behold, the Anunnaki” from Metal Blade Debut

Posted in audiObelisk on July 16th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Image swapped at band request.

On Aug. 5, West Virginian classic doom four-piece Brimstone Coven will make a self-titled debut on Metal Blade Records. The retro-fied, boogie-ritualized, 69-minute monster with which they’ll do it is available now to preorder and made up of 17 tracks — the sum total of their discography prior to inking the deal. Their original 2012 self-titled EP (which STB Records released as a 12″ last year) appears here as bonus tracks, and 2013′s II, comprises the meat of the album proper. But with the combination and a remaster comes a change of title, and Brimstone Coven‘s Brimstone Coven it is.

In whatever context one might want to view it, Brimstone Coven is an album that righteously engages the tenets of classic doom. There’s an early ’70s sway to the material, a looseness in the rhythm section of bassist Andrew D’Cagna and drummer Justin Wood, that gives the chugging, grooving riffs of guitarist Corey Roth both meat and movement, and Boobywitches.vocalist “Big John” Williams meshes with this modus perfectly, the layers of his voice harmonizing and calling to mind the natural feel and melodic range of grandiose ’70s prog, working with the music surrounding to give cuts like “Behold, the Anunnaki,” “The Black Door” and “The Seance” a mystique without sounding overblown or needlessly theatrical. It’s a careful balance and Brimstone Coven execute it well.

While the newer material (which appears first on the new collection) has a clearer production value than the original EP — though the remaster and an intro track provide an easy flow from one section into the next — that only makes it easier to hear the progression Brimstone Coven have undertaken. As a summary of the album’s appeal, “Behold, the Anunnaki” holds up more than ably in giving a sense of their progressive side while nailing down a steady rolling groove and building to a bigger finish. If it’s your first taste of what Brimstone Coven have to offer, you’re likely in for a pleasant surprise.

Enjoy:

Brimstone Coven will release their self-titled full-length via Metal Blade Records on Aug. 5. The album is available to preorder here. They’ll also join Eric Wagner‘s Blackfinger for select shows on their upcoming tour, and on July 21, they’ll play with labelmates Mount Salem in their home state. More info from the PR wire and at the links below:

Brimstone Coven is a retro-hard rock / doom band that hails of out Wheeling, WV. They began brewing their own blend of “dark occult rock” in the early months of 2011. Corey Roth (Guitarist) wrote the first five songs, which would later become the band’s self titled album. Roth went on to handpick three seasoned musicians from the local scene. Andrew D’Cagna (Bass), Justin Wood (Drums), and “Big John” Williams (Vocals) were recruited to carry out Roth’s plan for sonic domination. Echoing the eerie reverberations of hard rock heavyweights such as Black Sabbath and Pentagram, mixed with the classic rock style of Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd, Brimstone Coven strive to preserve a vintage rock sound mixed with a style all their own.

After many shows, one album, the band added new drummer Dan Hercules, released their second album, simply titled “II”, which was released in November of 2013, and signed with Metal Blade Records! Since signing with Metal Blade, original drummer Justin Wood has returned to the fold and has rounded out the seminal chemistry the band had been looking for. Metal Blade Records will begin their new partnership with Brimstone Coven by releasing the band’s latest album combined with their debut EP, complete with new mastering and brand new artwork. Artwork was completed by Creighton Hill, the same mind behind the band’s first two releases. The newly packaged and mastered set 17 tracks will serve as a solid introduction to Brimstone Coven for new fans. On August 5, the album will be available digitally and physically in North America.

Brimstone Coven at Metal Blade Records

Brimstone Coven on Thee Facebooks

Brimstone Coven’s website

Metal Blade Records

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Slow Motion Rider to Release Self-Titled LP Sept. 1

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 14th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

I just wanna testify...

Los Angeles heavy psych rockers Slow Motion Rider put the digital edition of their self-titled debut out in May, and The Committee to Keep Music Evil will issue the physical version of the album this September. The record was produced by Rob Campanella of The Brian Jonestown Massacre, and the release will make the three-piece labelmates with the likes of FederaleThe Asteroid 4 and Spindrift. Accordingly, the collection spaces out its vinyl-able 42 minutes with trippy effects and a shoegazing drawl that sounds desert-baked. I dig it. You might also dig it. Which is why I’m posting about it. Right on.

The PR wire sends its regards, as well as audio:

Whatever makes my baby feel good.

The Committee To Keep Music Evil would like to announce the release of the debut album by Slow Motion Rider

Produced by Rob Campanella of The Brian Jonestown Massacre

digital release/ May 1st 2014 -hard copies / September 1st 2014

Slow Motion Rider can take you places. This heavy psych trio has created a strong identity of powerful musicianship, taking it back to its roots and giving it all they can. Hailing from the LA circuit with renown for groovy carefree parties and a strong sense of community, their live shows are raw and full of energy. Having a number of influences in their DNA you will think of Spacemen 3 and the pure blood of The Doors and Hendrix.

Talented with their ability to get into a groove and even riff without over indulgence these songs will have you hooked and truly take you back to the times when rock and roll was straightforward and honest. With a release amongst the stellar lineup of The Committee To Keep Music Evil that includes The Brian Jonestown Massacre, Dead Meadow, and more, they are already poised to move up in the community and bring a new consciousness to it all at once. From a trek through the California desert all the way to the deep reaches of our universe, these vibes are transcendent.

With performances at Austin Psych Fest 2014, other regional tours are scheduled for fall 2014. Slow Motion Rider has already been getting some airplay in the US as well as Europe which includes European syndicated Volks Radio Show. It drew the attention of Joe Foster “Slaughterhouse Joe”, co-founder of Creation Records and producer of countless bands including The Jesus and Mary Chain, My Bloody Valentine, who has recently signed on to work on their European presence and production of their second album. This album is scheduled for worldwide distribution by September 1st.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Slow-Motion-Rider/113494355371841
slowmotionrider.net
http://ctkme.com

Slow Motion Rider, Slow Motion Rider (2014)

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The Obelisk Radio Adds: All Them Witches, Rainbows are Free, Idre, Nyarlathotep, Panopticon

Posted in Radio on July 11th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Alright listen.

Click here to listen.

There doesn’t seem to ever be a break with this stuff. 16 records joined The Obelisk Radio playlist today, and that’s still got me behind on checking out more to add. I don’t know what the state of that hard drive is, but I might not be far off from needing to add a second one. It’s become an archive for me.

Diligent and admirable bastard that he is, Slevin is working on an automatically refreshing script that will allow listeners to see what was played over the last 24 hours, which will be a big help if a file is missing its ID3 tags — that being how the player identifies the songs — as I know things sometimes are. I get asked regularly what was played at a specific time, so hopefully this will be able to answer that question.

So things are in the works, but of course there’s a ton of music to talk about in the meantime, and that’s the fun part anyway.

The Obelisk Radio Adds for July 11, 2014:

All Them Witches, Effervescent EP

It's art!

There are at least two distinct jams at work in the 25-minute single track that makes up Effervescent, the 2014 EP from Nashville psych-blues rockers All Them Witches. The Fender Rhodes of Allan Van Cleave and airy guitar of Ben McLeod feature heavily in both, as bassist Michael Parks, Jr., and drummer Robby Staebler (interview here) provide a foundation on which to space out, and the two pieces find a bridge in hypnotic, psychedelic stretching and backwards noise beginning at around 13 minutes in before building back up. All throughout, the vibe is central, there is movement, and the four-piece demonstrate that the chemistry they showed burgeoning on last year’s brilliant Lightning at the Door (discussed here) was no fluke, but the beginning of a grand and creative exploration that finds its next installment here. It may be a stopgap — formerly their primary means of release, they’ve recently pulled their full-lengths down from Bandcamp; one expects big, got-signed-type news from them at any moment — but Effervescent is fluid and rich, and as deep as you want to go in listening to it, it’s willing to take you there and further. All Them Witches on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Nyarlathotep, The Shadow over Innsmouth

Black. Metal.

Some six years after releasing their initial The End is Always Near demo, New Jersey black metal outfit (whom, in the interest of full disclosure, I know personally) Nyarlathotep follow-up with the Lovecraftian full-length, The Shadow over Innsmouth. Based around the  short story of the same name, the album breaks down into five extended tracks plus an intro of rage-fueled atmospherics. Using programmed drums to their advantage on “Old Zadok Allen” — the only proper song here under 10 minutes — they add an industrial feel with a keyboard-led midsection backed by vague, ambient screams. The density in the material is striking, but even at their most unbridled — as on the blasting, solo-topped early moments in the title-track – Nyarlathotep hold their commitment to setting a mood firm, and the blown-out, distorted soundscape they create across the release is grim and otherworldly enough to be worthy of its subject matter. It is a complex, biting execution that won’t be for everyone, but that seethes in its quiet parts and gnashes its pointed teeth with monstrous force. Nyarlathotep on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Idre, Idre

Ye olde poste-metalle.
Oklahoma City trio Idre specialize in ambient fluidity and deeply-weighted tonal crush. Their self-released, self-titled debut long-player is comprised of two extended cuts — “Factorie” (26:41) and “Witch Trial” (13:17) — that each impress with their patience, their impact and their ability to contrast the generally claustrophobic feel of post-metal with an open-spaced, salt-of-the-earth pulse. Within its first 10 minutes, “Factorie” has moved from undulating waves of riffing to vast, strumming, Across Tundras-esque roll, and never does it seem to be meandering without purpose in the noisy stages to come. It builds and collapses, and when they seem the most gone, the clean, twanging vocals return to finish out, leading to the parabolically constructed “Witch Trial,” which marries Earth-style drone and galloping drums effectively to create a decidedly Western feel while still building toward, and eventually moving through a sonically pummeling apex. Once again, vocals are sparse, but perfectly placed almost as if to remind the listener of how small a human being can be in so wide a space as the Midwest. Like that landlocked region, Idre‘s Idre is expansive and lets you see for miles. Idre on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Rainbows are Free, Waves ahead of the Ocean

This one's good and has been on my review stack for a while.

Led by the substantial pipes of vocalist B. Fain Kistler, Norman, Oklahoma, four-piece Rainbows are Free seem keen on finding the place where classic doom and heavy rock meet, and on their second full-length, Waves ahead of the Ocean (released by Guestroom Records), they just about get there. Kistler is a singer worthy of comparison to Grand MagusJB Christoffersson, but Rainbows are Free are less grandiose overall, early songs like “The Botanist,” the title-track and the cumbersomely-titled opener “Speed God and the Rise of the Motherfuckers from a Place beyond Hell” nestling into heavy, engaging grooves marked out by the choice riffing of Richie Tarver, the bass work of Chad Hogue and drums of Bobby Onspaugh. Unpretentious and professional in their presentation, they doom up an otherwise Clutch-style boogie in “Cadillac” before going full-on trad metal in “Snake Bitten by Love,” and ably making their way through a Dio Sabbath push on “Burn and Die,” which works well despite feeling a long way from the upbeat rockin’ of earlier highlight “Sonic Demon” and leads smoothly into closer “Comet,” the six-and-a-half-minute spacier thrust of which seems to be seems to be where Rainbows are Free most choose to harken to the psychedelia one might expect from their moniker. They most drive toward the epic in their finale, and the payoff there is churning and insistent in a way that more than justifies the song’s position on the 37-minute record, but even then have a keen eye for structure and holding the attention of their audience. An impeccably put together album from a band more than ready to turn heads. Rainbows are Free on Thee Facebooks, Guestroom Records on Bandcamp.

Panopticon, Roads to the North

No media.
Despite the bluegrass influence and liberal inclusion of banjo amidst its blackened onslaught, Panopticon‘s Roads to the North (released on Bindrune) is perhaps most American of all for its pulling together seemingly disparate elements in defiance of European traditionalism. Billed as and creating the standard for American folk metal, it nonetheless is in conversation with European black metal — a conversation that in my head looks something like it’s being chased à la Benny Hill for its heresies — while purposefully working against its tenets. Roads to the North is the fifth full-length from the one-man project of Kentucky’s Austin Lunn, and made in collaboration with Krallice‘s Colin Marston (among others), it elicits a sprawl through both its metallic extremity and its devotion to the aesthetic it pioneers. It makes for a heady 74-minute listen, but Panopticon are cohesive throughout — five records deep, they should be — and one doesn’t embark on an album like Roads to the North lightly or without wanting full immersion into an evocative and blistering landscape. That’s just what you get. Panopticon on Thee Facebooks, Bindrune Recordings.

For the full list of albums added to The Obelisk Radio this week and to see the latest updates, click here.

Thanks for reading and listening.

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30 Before ’15: Records Not to Miss Before the New Year Hits

Posted in Features on July 8th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

I made this. (Etching by Jacob Strutt 1824)

Before I even start, let’s get one thing out of the way. I want a new Sleep album too. My not including them on this list isn’t due to the fact that I don’t think a new Sleep album is a good idea, but just because I haven’t seen anything about it being recorded or released in the next five-plus months. If it hits on Jan. 1, 2015, I’ll be the happiest Baby New Year you ever saw, but that’s a different list altogether.

Ditto that Om and High on Fire. The latter were writing as of May, and I know Om did some recording way back in January, but I’ve yet to see solid word of new records at all, let alone before the end of the year. Either or both or all three may happen, but until I see some hint of it, all I can go on is the info I can find.

Seriously though, how badass would it be if all three put out albums before the New Year? That excitement is kind of what this list is about. Some of these records I’ve heard, but most I haven’t, so it’s just basic speculation about what I think could be some of the best releases in the next couple months. You’ll note that while there are plenty of dates TBA, nothing listed arrives in November, so as 2014 winds down, there’s bound to be even more quality stuff than appears here.

In fact, I struggled to take things out to get it down to 30. And it still goes to 31! I figured no one would mind. They’re numbered, but the list is in alphabetical order.

If I left something out you’re dying to hear, please let me know in the comments.

Thanks in advance for reading:

 

1. Alunah, TBA (Sept.)

Thee band Alunah. I've used this picture A LOT.
Birmingham’s Alunah, like several others below, are a holdover from the Most Anticipated Albums list back at the start of the year. The difference between now and then is that, while its title still hasn’t been revealed so far as I know, their Napalm Records debut has been recorded, mixed and mastered, the latter by Tony Reed, the former by Greg Chandler of Esoteric, and given a September release date. Two years after Alunah made riffy doom sound easy on their sophomore outing, White Hoarhound (review here), I look forward to hearing how they’ve grown and shifted in their approach to warm-sounding tones and memorable hooks. They’ve set a pretty high standard for themselves. Alunah on Thee Facebooks, Napalm Records.

2. Apostle of Solitude, Of Woe and Wounds (Oct.)

Dudes.
These guys. I don’t mind telling you it was a thrill when Indianapolis doomers Apostle of Solitude were announced as having signed to Cruz del Sur to release their third album, Of Woe and Wounds, this fall. Their second outing, 2010′s Last Sunrise (review here), didn’t get the attention it deserved, but the handful of songs they’ve made public since have shown much promise, and as the first Apostle of Solitude full-length to feature guitarist/vocalist Steve Janiak (also Devil to Pay) in harmony with guitarist/vocalist Chuck Brown — the band is completed by bassist Dan Davidson and drummer Corey Webb — this is definitely going to make for a doomly autumn. Apostle of Solitude on Thee Facebooks, Cruz del Sur Music.

3. Blackwolfgoat, Drone Maintenance (Aug. 26)

Cartoon Darryl coming soon to Adult Swim. (Art by Alexander von Wieding).
Recorded late last year at Amps vs. Ohms in Boston, the third album from Maple Forum alum Blackwolfgoat — the prog-drone alter ego of guitarist Darryl Shepard (Milligram, Black Pyramid, The Scimitar, Roadsaw, etc.) — is the project’s most expansive outing yet, and it seems Shepard is moving more in a song-based direction, rather than some of the building loops of the past two offerings. Of course, there will be plenty of those as well, but watch out for some acoustic guitar, and deep-in-the-mix vocals, as they could easily hint of things to come. Or Darryl could turn it on its head and do a calypso record. Either way, I’m on board with no pretense of impartiality. Blackwolfgoat on Bandcamp, Small Stone’s Bandcamp.

4. Blues Pills, Blues Pills (Aug. 5)

Lot of this lately.
The much-heralded Swedish/French/American psych-blues conglomeration Blues Pills will make their self-titled debut (short review here) next month, and while it’s probably going to be a bigger deal in Europe than in the States — at least until Nuclear Blast brings them over here for a tour, then the country is going to go apeshit for them — the songwriting and soulful execution of their tracks justifies the hype. There’s a bit of retro posturing to what they do, some Graveyard shuffle (it feels inevitable at this point with a ’70s-influenced band), but the grooves are easy to dig into and the potential is basically limitless for where they want to go. It’s scary to keep in mind, but this is just the beginning. Blues Pills on Thee Facebooks, Nuclear Blast.

5. Bongripper, Miserable (July 7)

Frickin' Bongripper.
You may notice something strange about the date above for a list of upcoming albums in that July 7 was yesterday. Well, Chicago’s Bongripper posted their new three-track full-length monster Miserable on their Bandcamp for stream and download ahead of the vinyl’s arrival, and it was just too righteous to leave out. Those seeking landmark riffing need look no further than the 19-minute centerpiece “Descent,” which meters out stomp enough that future “scientists” will study its footprint, and closer “Into Ruin” (28:25) is guaranteed to be the heaviest half-hour you’ll spend today. Miserable feels like a no-brainer, but maybe that’s just because Bongripper have such a propensity for pounding skulls into mush. Bongripper on Thee Facebooks, Miserable on Bandcamp.

6. Botanist, VI: Flora (Aug. 11)

Neato.
I feel like I missed a couple numbers from San Francisco-based environmentalist black metal unit Botanist along the way, but they’ll nonetheless issue VI: Flora on The Flenser next month, furthering their marriage of destruction and beauty and insistent percussive expression. The spaces Botanist — a one-man project from Robert Martinelli — create feel ritualistic without the dramatic posturing that pervades much of the genre, and sound, somewhere between raging and mournful, is hypnotic. Whatever your expectation might be, Martinelli seems pleased to use it to their advantage, and ultimately, defy it. Post-human, hammered dulcimer-laden black metal. It would be harder for Botanist to not be unique. Botanist on Thee Facebooks, The Flenser.

7. Brant Bjork, TBA (TBA)

Mr. Bjork, recording.
When Brant Bjork‘s next album might show up, I don’t know. I know he’s signed to Napalm, and I know the photo above was snapped as he finished some vocals before going on tour with his Low Desert Punk band that includes guitarist Bubba DuPree, bassist Dave Dinsmore and drummer Tony Tornay, but whether or not the album they made is the funk-inspired Jakoozi that’s been in the offing for a while, or another collection of songs, and if Napalm will get it out before the end of the year remain a mystery. I do find it interesting that for his first “solo” outing post-Vista Chino (that band being on hiatus), Bjork has assembled a new band to work with rather than record multiple instruments himself, but no matter who’s involved, when it’s Brant Bjork writing the songs, it’s gonna be high rock from the low desert. Can’t wait to dig into whatever comes. Brant Bjork on Thee Facebooks, Napalm Records.

8. Earth, Primitive and Deadly (Sept.)

Erf.
The headline for Earth‘s new album is it’s the one where they experimented with vocalists. And hey, if you’re going to toy around with the idea, you might as well get Mark Lanegan involved. The former Screaming Trees frontman is one of several singers appearing on Primitive and Deadly, due in September on Southern Lord, and it would appear that Earth‘s sound — always evolving, always somehow changing — is about to take another considerable turn. Fortunately, the Seattle band, led by guitarist Dylan Carlson and now approaching their 25th year, have long since proven worthy of trusting with their own direction. Earth will never be huge, by the simple nature of what they do, but their influence resounds and the quality of their output is unmatched. Earth on Thee Facebooks, Southern Lord Recordings.

9. Electric Wizard, Time to Die (Sept.)

Art by Jus Oborn.
“Wake up baby/It’s time to die.” So goes the title-track hook of Electric Wizard‘s new album and Spinefarm Records debut, Time to Die. As ever, it’s simple, hateful, drenched-in-fuzz misanthropy, and Electric Wizard revel in it accordingly. Their witchcult continues to grow in their native UK and abroad, and while their last two records have divided some listeners, they’ve invariably gained more ground than they’ve lost. A legal dispute with Rise Above finds them on the new label, and if there’s even the slightest chance that change will bring them to the US for a tour, I’ll take it. Expect 66 minutes of glorious filth. Electric Wizard on Thee Facebooks, Spinefarm Records.

10. Fever Dog, Second Wind (TBA)

I cropped it.
Palm Desert youngsters Fever Dog have been kicking around the last few years finding their sound in varying elements of heavy rock and psychedelic experimentation. Most recently, they impressed with the single “Iroquois” (review here) taken from their new album Second Wind, and in looking forward to the full-length, I’m eager to learn how their style has solidified and what sort of vibes they conjure over its course. They’ve shown plenty of propensity for jamming in their prior work, so hopefully there’s a bit of that on hand as well. I’ve said before they’re a trio of marked potential, and nothing I’ve yet heard has dissuaded me from that impression. Fever Dog on Thee Facebooks, Fever Dog on Bandcamp.

11. Goat, Commune (Sept. 23)

Okey dokey.
Somehow, a band from Sweden who dress up in tribal costumes (problematic) and play Afrobeat psychedelia became a very, very big deal. I couldn’t explain it if I wanted to, and I won’t try, but I know that when Sub Pop releases Goat‘s second album, Commune, it’s going to be to a flurry of hype and heaps of critical fawning. It would be tempting to call Goat a novelty act, but their 2012 debut, World Music (discussed here), showcased a legitimately creative musical approach to go with the visual aspects of their presentation, and I find the fact that I have no idea what to expect from Commune to be refreshing. Goat on Thee Facebooks, Sub Pop Records.

12. Grifter, The Return of the Bearded Brethren (Aug. 11)

I guess the bearded brethren forgot their shirts.
UK heavy rockers Grifter will make a welcome resurgence on Ripple Music with The Return of the Bearded Brethren, an album that builds on the straightforward, catchy sounds of their 2011 self-titled label debut (review here) and takes their infectiousness to new places lyrically, such as exploring issues of aging via an ode to Princess Leia from Star Wars. That particular brand of humor and is writ large on Grifter‘s second Ripple outing, and the trio set to work refining their take without losing the engaging feel of their self-titled. It feels like a long three years since that record hit, and I’ll be glad to have a follow-up in-hand. Grifter on Thee Facebooks, Ripple Music.

13. Ice Dragon and Space Mushroom Fuzz, New Blue Horizon/A Peak into the Future (TBA)

Aaaaaaaart.
Unclear at this point whether Boston outfits Ice Dragon and Space Mushroom Fuzz collaborated on New Blue Horizon/A Peak into the Future, or if it’s a split. Either way, the prolific acts make a sound pairing. Both are vehemently creative and exploratory, psychedelic and progressive each in their way, and if what’s presumably a single finds them working together, all the better, but even if not, new material from either is nothing to balk at, particularly when topped off by such gorgeous artwork. Neither act is ever long from putting something out, so to have them come together one way or another makes a weird brand of sense, which I’m relatively sure the songs will as well. Ice Dragon on Thee Facebooks, Space Mushroom Fuzz on Thee Facebooks.

14. Ides of Gemini, Old World New Wave (Sept. 16)

Will make a good tape.
Ides of Gemini‘s 2012 Neurot Recordings debut, Constantinople (discussed here), established the three-piece as freely inhabiting either side of the imaginary line between ambience and heaviness, J. Bennett and Kelly Johnston providing sometimes minimal, sometimes consuming foundations for vocalist Sera Timms (ex-Black Math Horseman, also Black Mare) to cast ethereal melodies. What Old World New Wave will hold sound-wise, I don’t yet know, but Ides of Gemini‘s otherworldly resonance and ultra-patient approach makes it well worth finding out. Ides of Gemini on Thee Facebooks, Neurot Recordings.

15. John Gallow, Violet Dreams (Aug. 4)

Art by Costin Chioreanu.
Frontman of Blizaro and Orodruin guitarist John James Gallo adds a ‘w’ to his last name and steps out solo on the I, Voidhanger Records release, Violet Dreams, the title hinting at some of his on-his-sleeve affinity for Italian psych-doom master Paul Chain and Swedish legends Candlemass. Gallo‘s work in Blizaro has a tendency to lean toward the progressive and cinematic, but as John Gallow, the focus is more on classic doom riffing and darkened metallurgy. As one would expect, he’s well in his element on the hour-long album, and I hope he decides to call the next one Ancient Theatre. Also note the incredible artwork of Costin Chioreanu. John Gallo on Thee Facebooks, I, Voidhanger Records.

16. John Garcia, John Garcia (Aug. 5)

Are there rams in the desert?
A long-discussed solo debut for the former Kyuss frontman following a stint alongside Brant Bjork in Vista Chino, John Garcia‘s John Garcia (review here) finds the singer right in his comfort zone, topping desert rock riffs with his trademark guttural vocals. To be perfectly honest, I’m not sure I’d trade a second Vista Chino outing for it if given the choice — that band seemed to be on course for a sound of its own, separate from Kyuss‘ legacy, and that struck me as worth pursuing — but these songs have a similar enough production style that it’s easy to think of the one as an offshoot of the other, and of course Garcia calls his shots well throughout. John Garcia on Thee Facebooks, Napalm Records.

17. King Buffalo, TBA (TBA)

Pretty sure this is a t-shirt design.
Including King Buffalo here was pretty speculative on my part, but I dig the Rochester, NY, outfit and didn’t want to leave the prospect of their STB Records debut long-player out. It probably won’t land until 2015 — the future! — but their demo (review here) still gets regular plays around these parts, and I’m very much looking forward to catching them with similarly-minded Nashville blues rockers All Them Witches when they tour together next month. Whatever King Buffalo‘s recording/release plans might be, they’re definitely one to keep an eye on in the back half of this year. King Buffalo on Thee Facebooks, STB Records.

18. Kings Destroy, Kings Destroy (TBA)

Kangs Deestroy.
Love these guys, love this band. I make no bones about it. Their third record, self-titled and produced as the last two were by Sanford Parker, is as close as they’ve yet come to capturing their live sound, and while they’ve yet to nail down an exact release date, they have a couple very cool tours in the works for this fall, including dates next month with Eric Wagner‘s Blackfinger, that will make a fitting lead-in to their best outing yet. I’ve heard this and had the chance to see some of the material live, and they’ve outdone themselves again, which, considering the esteem in which I continue to hold their 2013 sophomore full-length, A Time of Hunting, is really saying something. Kings Destroy on Thee Facebooks, War Crime Recordings.

19. The Kings of Frog Island, V (Fall)

Thee ol KOFI.
Easily one of the LPs I’m most eager to hear over the next few months, and specifically on vinyl. The Kings of Frog Island have shown themselves to be so dedicated to the format that their early-2013 album, IV (review here), was presented as two bundled sides even digitally. They recently gave a taste of what their fifth album will in-part hold via a video for “Sunburn” and I’m told more jamminess ensues elsewhere to complement that track’s easygoing flow and platter-ready hook. All the better. The Kings of Frog Island on Thee Facebooks, The Kings of Frog Island on YouTube.

20. Lonely Kamel, Shit City (Sept. 9)

But that's not the way it happened.
I’d be lying if I said part of my immediate interest in Oslo heavy rockers Lonely Kamel‘s fourth record wasn’t due to the cheeky title, but it’s been three years since the Napalm Records four-piece released their last album, Dust (track stream here), and as they’ve put in plenty of road-time, it doesn’t seem unreasonable to go into this time around with elevated anticipation. I’m not sure you could get away with calling an album Shit City unless you meant business. Got my fingers crossed that’s precisely the case with Lonely Kamel. Lonely Kamel on Thee Facebooks, Napalm Records.

21. Lo-Pan, Colossus (Oct. 7)

Nice. (Art by Jason Alexander Byers) (Oct. 7)
Fucking a. Doing the research for this list was the first I’d seen the Jason Alexander Byers cover art for Lo-Pan‘s fourth album, Colossus, or its Oct. 7 Small Stone release date. I haven’t heard the tracks yet — they recorded in Brooklyn back in March, and while I got 2012′s Salvador (review here) pretty early, the Columbus four-piece seem to be keeping a tighter lid on the follow-up — and I can’t help but feel like that’s my loss. Judging by what I’ve heard of the material live, Lo-Pan have dug further into their individual brand of riff-led soulful heavy, and I’ve got a high wager that a few months from now, Lo-Pan‘s latest will make an appearance on another list. More to come. Lo-Pan on Thee Facebooks, Small Stone Records.

22. Novembers Doom, Bled White (July 15)

Pretty dark for something so white.
One of doom’s most fascinating and largely ignored progressions is that of Chicago melancholists Novembers Doom, who, when they started out 25 years ago, did so largely as a death metal band, and then moved on to pioneer an American interpretation of what’s commonly thought of as European doom, until, over their last several records, as they’ve started to move back to a more extreme, double-kick-drummed style. Bled White, on The End Records, continues along this path, but especially in the cleaner vocals of frontman Paul Kuhr there remain shades of the morose emotionality that typified what’s now become their mid-period doom idolatry. Unheralded, Novembers Doom keep exploring deeper, darker terrain. Novembers Doom on Thee Facebooks, The End Records.

23. Pallbearer, Foundations of Burden (Aug. 19)

I requested a copy of this yesterday. A download. The email was ignored. Nice to be put in your place every now and again.
Foundations of Burden is unquestionably among the second half of 2014′s most anticipated albums. Arkansas-based doom four-piece Pallbearer will mark its release with extensive European and North American tours, and where their 2012 Profound Lore debut, Sorrow and Extinction (review here), came out and caught listeners off-guard with its unabashed emotional core, their sophomore outing finds them positioned at the forefront of American doom. Already the hype machine is rolling out the red carpet for the Billy Anderson-produced Foundations of Burden, but no one can say these guys haven’t put their work in, and the record is indeed one to look forward to. Pallbearer on Thee Facebooks, Profound Lore Records.

24. The Skull, TBA (TBA)

Thee Skulle.  (Photo by Ty Klingsick)
For The Skull to put out an album of original material is a unique challenge. Their earlier-2014 first single (stream/review here) found them standing up to it on the new song “Sometime Yesterday Mourning,” but at least half the point of the band since its inception has been to pay homage to legendary doomers Trouble, from whence vocalist Eric Wagner, bassist Ron Holzner and drummer Jeff “Oly” Olson come. For their Tee Pee Records debut full-length — yet untitled and hopefully out before 2015 — it’ll be most interesting to see how guitarists Matt Goldsborough (ex-Pentagram) and Lothar Keller (Sacred Dawn) rise to the occasion of building off some of doom metal’s most celebrated tones. Fingers crossed on this one. The Skull on Thee Facebooks, Tee Pee Records.

25. Snail, Feral (TBA)

Also not the album cover.
Nothing has been formally announced yet, but on Small Stone Records‘ website, they list Snail‘s Feral among their upcoming releases. It would make a suitable pairing, the West Coast riffers having previously worked with MeteorCity on their 2009 post-reunion outing, Blood (review here), prior to independently releasing 2012′s Terminus (review here), and Small Stone seems like a good home for their fourth overall record and return to form as a trio, which was their original incarnation before their original dissolution circa 1994. How they expand on the heavier crunch of Terminus remains even more a point of fascination, and surely their cult following will be glad to find out. I know I will. Snail on Thee Facebooks, Small Stone Records.

26. Steak, Slab City (Sept. 9)

Comics and such.
After two strong EPs in 2012′s Disastronaught (review here) and 2013′s best-title-ever-boasting Corned Beef Colossus (review here), it’s time for London stoner rockers Steak to step up their game for their Napalm Records debut full-length. The four-piece headed to the Californian desert to record Slab City, and so it’s fair to think some of that atmosphere may have worked its way into the material. Would be an awfully long way to go, otherwise. In either case, Steak have showcased considerable songwriting chops already, now it’s just a matter of sustaining it for a full album’s runtime and keeping enough variety in their approach. I have no doubt they’re ready for this next step. Steak on Thee Facebooks, Napalm Records.

27. Stubb, Cry of the Ocean (TBA)

Obviously not the cover, this is Tony Reed's mastering sheet.
It is with simple, unabashed warm feelings that I look forward to hearing Cry of the Ocean, the second long-player and Ripple Music debut from UK riffers Stubb. They’ve traded out drummers since 2012′s self-titled (review here), bringing aboard Tom Fyfe with guitarist/vocalist Jack Dickinson and bassist/vocalist Peter Holland, but I’m excited to hear what changes and shifts in sound Cry of the Ocean might have in store to match its provocative title. Goes without saying the photo above isn’t the final artwork, but instead Tony Reed‘s mastering sheet from back in May when he worked on the tracks. No solid release date yet, but hopefully soon. Stubb on Thee Facebooks, Ripple Music.

28. Torche, TBA (TBA)

Rock. (Photo by Janette Valentine)
Torche‘s new album and Relapse Records debut was originally slated for the end of the summer. Given that no official word has come out about a title or anything like that and the members of the band have been busy with other projects, it seems unlikely as of now that they’ll hit that target, but after something of a break so frontman Steve Brooks could focus on the resurgent trio Floor, Torche are in fact getting going again, beginning with their first tour of Australia this fall. Maybe their LP will be out by the time they go and maybe it won’t, but word on the street is that whenever the thing arrives, it’s gonna be heavy, which I have no problem believing. Torche on Thee Facebooks, Relapse Records.

29. The Well, Monomyth (Late Summer)

Not the final art. At least I don't think it is. I guess it could be.
I’ve been waiting since the March announcement that Austin trio The Well signed with RidingEasy Records for further word of their debut full-length, Monomyth (pretty sure that’s not the cover above), but thus far to no avail. Their 2012 single, Seven (review here), was a repeat-listen thriller, and anticipation abounds for what sort of psychedelic garage riffing they’ll conjure up for the album itself. It’s been a couple months at this point, and maybe it’ll be 2015 before Monomyth gets out, but screw it, a boy can hope. The Well on Thee Facebooks, RidingEasy Records.

30. Witch Mountain, Mobile of Angels (Sept.)

Not final cover art replaced with band photo.

Please note: The original cover art with this post was not final and has been replaced with the above band photo.

Portland, Oregon’s Witch Mountain have spent much of the two years following their 2012 third LP, Cauldron of the Wild (review here) on tour in the US and abroad, playing fests, headlining, supporting, but generally putting in a lot of time. As such, Mobile of Angels, which will be out on Svart in Europe and Profound Lore in North America, comes as the end product of a considerable touring cycle. Has all that gigging worn Witch Mountain into the ground, or will they rise above it with metal-loving doom-blues supremacy? They’ve got a vinyl-ready 38 minutes on tap for September and if they’ve ever been in a position to make their case, it’s now. Watch out for the killer sway in “Can’t Settle,” the title of which seems a fitting theme for the band. Witch Mountain on Thee Facebooks, Profound Lore Records.

31. YOB, Clearing the Path to Ascend (Sept. 2)

Well yeah. Duh. (Art by Orion Landau)
Yet again — as was the case back in January — alphabetical order forces me to end with YOB, whose seventh full-length and Neurot debut might just be my most anticipated of all on this list. The recently-unveiled Orion Landau cover speaks to a brooding sentiment, and from the one time I was fortunate enough to hear it to-date, the four-track album from the Eugene, Oregon, natives corresponds to its visual side in being a more aggressive push than was 2012′s Atma (review here), but also more exploratory and contemplative in its approach. Now statesmen in American doom and the forebears of a cosmic-minded sound, YOB stand ready to showcase a creative progression that has yet to find its end point. YOB on Thee Facebooks, Neurot Recordings.

Other Notable Mentions

Just a couple of these I’d be remiss if I didn’t note. Some were carried over from earlier this year, others just come up along the way. Not sure on all the release dates, but these are worth keeping an ear out for:

Acid King — Were listed in January, but their record has a Feb. 2015 release date.

Bright Curse — Second album recorded at Skyhammer Studios.

Brothers of the Sonic Cloth — My understanding is the album is done and they’re waiting to secure a label. Seems like a good occasion for Southern Lord to step forward, if not Profound Lore or Neurot.

Eggnogg — Not sure if it’s their full-length, You’re all Invited, or something else that’s coming, but whatever. More stoner-funk riffing needs to be had.

40 Watt Sun — There was some word of this early in the year, but nothing since.

Godflesh — Their first in 15 years, A World Lit Only by Fire, will be out Oct. 7. A fuckup not including them on the list proper.

It’s Not Night: It’s Space — Eagerly awaiting the Small Stone debut from this instrumental outfit, but it might be next year.

Karma to Burn — New album, Arch Stanton, out in August. I emailed for a review promo and never heard back. Always a great feeling.

Larman Clamor — Solo-project from Alexander von Wieding has a new one in the can, but I’m not sure on the release schedule.

Lowrider — They’re working on it, but don’t hold your breath to have it out by December.

The Machine — Kind of a slow year for Elektrohasch, but the new one from these Dutch fuzzers would be a nice way end up.

NachtmystiumCentury Media releases their final album, The World We Left Behind, on Aug. 5.

Orange Goblin — Seriously debated putting them on the list, since I know they’ve recorded, but they seem to be promoting a recent reissue of 2007′s Healing through Fire and their upcoming European tour with Saint Vitus rather than their new album, so unless news comes out about it like this week from Candlelight, I wouldn’t expect it until early in 2015.

Pink Floyd – Believe it when I see it, but I honestly couldn’t care less either way if I tried.

Ruby the Hatchet — Their full-length Tee Pee debut is due sometime in the next couple months.

Sun Voyager — Upstate NY youngsters had hinted at new recordings.

Again, if I forgot anything — and I’m sure I did — please let me know in the comments.

Thanks for reading.

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John Garcia, John Garcia: The Time was Right

Posted in Reviews on July 7th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Still not sure why the ram, but okay.

Over the last two-plus decades, John Garcia‘s voice has set the standard for the sound of the California desert. His work in genre-progenitors Kyuss speaks for itself — loudly, and with much fuzz — and subsequent outfits UnidaSlo BurnHermano and more guest appearances than one can count have kept his presence steady in the international underground he played an essential role in forging, and his first solo outing, John Garcia, arrives via Napalm Records following a run with the semi-Kyuss reunion outfit Vista Chino, which ultimately brought together Garcia and drummer Brant Bjork with guitarist Bruno Fevery and Corrosion of Conformity bassist Mike Dean to tour the world in support of their 2013 outing, Peace (review here), after a couple years prior on the road as Kyuss Lives!, that project born out of Garcia‘s own Garcia Plays Kyuss, which launched at the 2010 Roadburn festival. In some ways, the album John Garcia is an extension of Vista Chino, particularly in terms of Garcia‘s performance and in terms of the production. An 11-track/45-minute full-length, material was culled from years of Garcia‘s own tapes, freshly arranged by the singer with some input by Hermano guitarist Dave Angstrom, and brought to bear by producer Harper Hug at Thunder Underground, the same studio where Peace was recorded. However, since some of the source material for these songs is older, and because there are a variety of players appearing throughout, from The DoorsRobbie Krieger on acoustic-led closer “Her Bullets Energy” to Danko JonesAngstrom himself, Nick Oliveri and The Dwarves‘ Mark Diamond and Tom Brayton, there’s also no shortage of diversity in the sound.

That being the case, John Garcia ran a pretty hefty risk in the making of coming across disjointed, but the consistency in the production and of course the focus element of Garcia‘s voice tie tracks together neatly, the album opening with its biggest chorus in “My Mind,” a track that immediately casts the wide-open spaces in which the rest of the songs will take place. Those familiar with his work will hear shades of various Garcia-fronted bands throughout the album, from the Slo Burn-style rush of later cut “Saddleback” to the Vista Chino-esque bounce of “Rolling Stoned,” a cover of Canadian trio Black Mastiff which undercuts some of its laid-back vibe with the opening lyrical threat, “If you leave me, I will kill you.” Nonetheless, “Rolling Stoned” follows “My Mind” as part of a strong opening salvo that continues through “Flower” and “The Blvd” and “5,000 Miles” to proffer memorable hooks, compressed but warm tones and an engaging presence from Garcia, who departs from the post-lawsuit bitterness that comprised much of the thematic of the Vista Chino offering to tell more of a story, as on “The Blvd” or the following “5,000 Miles,” which resounds as a classic coming-home song set to a particularly effective riff, somewhat more open than the first four cuts, but still largely consistent in pace and quality. Truth be told, though the mood changes somewhat along the way, there really isn’t a point where John Garcia falls into clunker-ism. And neither should there be. This project was years in the making and even more years in the discussing, and with Garcia‘s experience in the studio and on stage, it’s perfectly reasonable to assume that if something wasn’t working toward the benefit of the album, it would be discarded. Over repeat listens, John Garcia begins to give that impression — not of being a confessional, exactly, in the way that some “solo albums” are, but of being carefully constructed selections chosen to represent this singer and his songwriting process.

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Blues Pills Self-Titled Debut Coming Aug. 5 on Nuclear Blast

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 30th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

All smiles.

For a band to bring together members from four different nations is complicated enough, but Blues Pills, who seem to have settled in Swedish retro/heavy rock hotspot Örebro (home to Truckfighters, Witchcraft, etc.), make a fluid debut with their self-titled. The record is set to land on North American shores on Aug. 5 via Nuclear Blast (July 25 in Europe), and it follows the Devil Man EP and a Live at Rockpalast recording issued on the label last year, a buzz having more or less build around the four-piece since their demo surfaced in 2010 and their first single arrived in 2011.

They’ll play the Totem Psych Fest on July 25 in Italy, will play other fests all summer and have tour dates booked this fall around appearances at Desertfest in Belgium and the Up in Smoke and Keep it Low fests in October. More to come, I’m sure. Here’s the album info off the PR wire:

Hard to fuck with this art. Cover by Marijke Koger-Dunham.

Multicultural Rock Band BLUES PILLS to Release Self-Titled Debut August 5

Örebro, Sweden-based blues rock force BLUES PILLS will release its debut LP Blues Pills on August 5 via Nuclear Blast Records. The stunning young American-Swedish-French quartet, featuring vocalist Elin Larsson, drummer Cory Berry, bassist Zack Anderson and 17- year-old guitar phenom Dorian Sorriaux, are wise beyond their years, creating unique, intense and extraordinary rock music fueled by the timeless greats. The highly-anticipated follow up to 2013′s Devil Man EP, Blues Pills was recorded in Gothenburg, Sweden with producer Don Alsterberg (Graveyard, Horisont) and is advanced by the release of the blowback lead single “High Class Woman”.

Led by sensational Swedish songstress Elin Larsson, whose powerful, versatile and emotionally direct voice could enliven the raunchiest blues as well as the subtlest love songs, BLUES PILLS is a true musical experience; one we thought was long gone, lost forever in time. Larsson’s incredible, soul-filled vocals and siren-like presence recalls Hall of Fame heroines such as Etta James, Nina Simone, Aretha Franklin and Tina Turner, impressively guiding and corralling the group’s deep dynamics; driving bass lines, tasty, fiery guitars and overarching hard edge that call for comparison to early hard rock and heavy metal greats such as UFO, Rainbow, Fleetwood Mac, Cream and the kingly Led Zeppelin.

Simply stated, BLUES PILLS create a beautiful and powerful mix of both old and new, mashing the sounds of legendary rock and soul pioneers while incorporating their own distinctive marks. The end result is impeccable, nearly-timeless blues-based power rock. Hearing is believing!

The album’s cover art was created by world renowned artist and musician Marijke Koger-Dunham, hailed as the mother of psychedelic art. Koger-Dunham designed clothing for The Beatles and Cream, created custom-painted instruments for John Lennon, Eric Clapton and George Harrison, printed posters sold at the counter culture shops of the day and was commissioned as a muralist to exercise her talents in large format for The Beatles’ Apple Boutique on Baker Street. Her striking artwork was chosen by the band because, in their own words, “it is a representation of the balance of life, as shown in all the symbolism of natural duality such as darkness and light, sun and moon, life and death. It shows how opposite forces are interconnected and compliment each other to form a whole. Besides that, it looks absolutely amazing!” Can you dig it?

Track listing:
1.) High Class Woman
2.) Ain’t No Change
3.) Jupiter
4.) Black Smoke
5.) River
6.) No Hope Left for Me
7.) Devil Man
8.) Astralplane
9.) Gypsy (Chubby Checker cover)
10.) Little Sun

Blues Pills is available for pre-order purchase now at this location.

http://www.bluespills.com/
http://instagram.com/bluespills
https://twitter.com/BluesPills
https://www.facebook.com/BluesPills

Blues Pills, “High Class Woman” from Blues Pills (2014)

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Friday Full-Length: Asteroid, Asteroid

Posted in Bootleg Theater on June 27th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Asteroid, Asteroid (2007)

I didn’t hear the 2007 self-titled debut from Swedish fuzz rockers Asteroid until two years later, but even half a decade after that, it remains a record I’ve gone back to over time when the situation calls for something brilliantly laid back, heavy, fuzzed out and catchy. There’s a band now from Ohio called Doctor Smoke; the closing track on this album is where they got their name. And while at nearly an hour long, the Örebro trio made their first outing a considerable undertaking, that song makes an excellent place to wind up as the journey rounds out.

And it is that. For all its stoner rocking charm, Asteroid‘s debut has a psychedelic flow underlying that would come more to the fore in 2010 with the delightfully jammy II (review here), but can be heard in the funky groove in the verse of “Panoramic Telescope,” and elsewhere of course. One of the album’s chief strengths, however, is its sense of flow, how easy the material leads you along the full-length course, how smooth Asteroid sound. Impressive for a band of any experience, let alone for a debut. On summer nights, I’ve sat and looked at the stars with this album, and I’ve used it like a blanket in winter. There’s no time that “The 13th Witching Hour” doesn’t feel just right.

Asteroid released a 7″ late in 2012 (review here), and word got around last year they had signed to Small Stone, but nothing has surfaced as yet. I consider myself lucky to have heard them jam out some of this material at Desertfest London in 2012, and though Fuzzorama, who initially released both albums, just put out a new pressing of the second one, hopefully it’s not too long before Asteroid‘s jammy take gets another studio installment. Got my fingers crossed.

Also my eyes are crossed, but that’s just from being tired. I doubt it’s been a major consideration in your life either way, but if you were wondering at all where I’ve been the last two days, I’ve been getting ready to move. Yesterday, The Patient Mrs. and I closed on a condo in East Bridgewater — 16 minutes away as I timed the trip last night. We went there yesterday to start taking some stuff over and to clean. We’ve been packing for the better part of the last 10 days. Today was cleaning all day, from morning to night, and getting the internet set up. We’re back at the other place now, in Abington, and I’m pirating signal off one of the neighbors. Thanks and sorry to whoever it is.

The closing was originally supposed to be today. It’s good we bumped it up a day, with so much cleaning to do. People never vacuum. Fucking cruelty. It was hot over there and sleeping on an aerobed with two people sucks, and we still had more stuff to pack, so we came back here. Movers come in the morning. The Patient Mrs. leaves for Greece for a month tomorrow night at 10:45. Get ready for some classic “I miss my wife”-type shit, as I expect I’ll be there by the end of next week. No central air and no Patient Mrs. is gonna be a rough July, I expect.

But at least while I’m sitting in the new place all next week (and presumably the subsequent three weeks), unpacking, etc., at least I’ll have plenty of time to write, which I didn’t this week. Monday, look out for that Wo Fat instrumental stream. Was supposed to go up today, but there were 10 hours of vacuuming and dusting to do, so there you go. I’d also like to do a batch of radio adds, and I should be able to transcribe that Lowrider interview as well, so keep an eye out for that. It was a doozy.

So, moving tomorrow, more cleaning, saying goodbye to The Patient Mrs. for a month, etc., but hopefully things will be workable by Monday. Whatever you’re up to this weekend, I hope it’s a great time. It’s hot out there. Don’t forget to hydrate.

And please check out the forum and radio stream.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

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Friday Full-Length: Queens of the Stone Age, Queens of the Stone Age

Posted in Bootleg Theater on June 6th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Queens of the Stone Age, Queens of the Stone Age (1998/2011)

I try not to write about Queens of the Stone Age too often. They’re kind of a given. But every now and then I break out their 1998 self-titled debut, and sometimes there’s just nothing else that will do. As we head into a summery-feeling weekend after a long, chaotic, but still really good week, it’s one of those moments when this record fits perfectly and it feels like as long as I keep it on the sun will stay up.

Now 16 years old and every bit the snotnosed punk, Queens of the Stone Age‘s Queens of the Stone Age was Josh Homme‘s first real outing as a frontman. Yeah, they had done the split with his former band, the desert rock pioneers Kyuss, and the Gamma Ray recordings, but it was these songs that really first shone the light on his vocals — and in hindsight how much he was really feeling his way through becoming a singer — and the approach and style of lyric-writing that would become a staple over the course of QOTSA‘s albums, influencing more bands worldwide than anyone could reasonably be asked to count and bridging the generally mile-wide gap between underground and commercial viability. To listen to “Mexicola” or “You Would Know” or “Avon” now, it’s nowhere near as elaborate as the band’s sound would become — Homme is the sole remaining founder, he sang and played bass and guitar on the self-titled while Alfredo Hernandez (also Kyuss, Yawning Man) drummed — but the songwriting is still waiting for something to stand up to it more than a decade and a half later.

There are those who are Kyuss loyalists, and with the back and forth legal action and animosity between ex-member camps, get caught up in some argument of who’s right and who’s wrong and whatever. I’m not into picking one or the other and to choose sides and only listen to Queens of the Stone Age or Kyuss or Vista Chino or Brant Bjork or John Garcia seems to me a silly way of denying yourself good music on either end. The self-titled Queens of the Stone Age is a record that I’ve listened to and loved for years. To me, that seems more important than whatever litigation may or may not be undertaken.

Hope you enjoy. Note: This is the 2011 reissue version, so you get “The Bronze,” “These aren’t the Droids You’re Looking For” and “Spiders and Vinegaroons” in addition to the original tracklist.

I had that record on last night on the tail end of the ride back to Massachusetts from New Jersey. If you noticed a general lack of posts this week as compared to “normal,” it’s because The Patient Mrs. and I were back and forth a lot, seeing family and friends and trying to get in as much quality time as possible. Also my car broke down and that added some measure of complication. Whatever. Point is it all worked out and I’m pretty sure that had I not been singing along to “If Only” last night at the time, I’d have driven right into the median on I-93.

Before I put the laptop down and go to the grocery store to pick up dinner makings, I want to extend one more tremendous thank you to Diane Farris of Jersey City’s legendary WFMU for having me on her show yesterday afternoon. It was such an unbelievable pleasure to be there and to pick tracks and get to talk about music and this site on the air. If you didn’t hear it, the full playlist, comment board and audio archive is available here: http://www.wfmu.org/playlists/shows/55937

Diane’s Kamikaze Fun Machine is on every Thursday from 12PM-3PM, and she does her Peer Pressure guest segments from 1PM on. Obviously I recommend listening.

Thanks as well to everyone who checked that out yesterday and left a comment to say hi or ask a question. It felt extra awesome to know people I knew were taking part in the show and hopefully enjoying doing so. Made me miss doing radio, which is something I haven’t really felt since I graduated college a decade ago.

Next week, reviews of Godflesh and the new split between Naam and Black Rainbows and White Hills and The Flying Eyes, as well as Deville‘s stop in Worcester and maybe a C.O.C. interview if it comes together in time. I’ve got some emailing to do to put that together, but I’m working on it.

Hope you have a great and safe weekend. Please check out the forum and the radio stream.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

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The Golden Grass Tour Starts Tomorrow

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 3rd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Starting tomorrow, Brooklyn heavy summer rockers The Golden Grass will head to the Midwest for a few shows in Ohio, Kentucky, Pittsburgh and Detroit. They’re playing with some killer acts along the way — see Main Street Gospel, Mike Cummings from Backwoods Payback, and the very, very fuzzy Electric Lucifer — and they’ll get back to Brooklyn just in time to play two shows at this year’s Northside Festival on June 14 and 15, which no doubt will be a righteous coming home party.

The Golden Grass head out supporting their self-titled Svart Records debut, which was streamed in full here. They’ve also got a new video for the song “One More Time” that you can dig into following the PR wire info below:

THE GOLDEN GRASS to embark on USA tour

Beginning tomorrow, THE GOLDEN GRASS will embark upon a mini-tour of the United States, supporting their self-titled debut album for SVART RECORDS (which can be streamed in its entirety HERE). Released last month, The Golden Grass has won over critics worldwide with a sound that authentically hearkens back to the golden age when heavy rock music was upbeat, skillfully played, energetic, edgy, and bursting with goodtime sunshine vibes. Now, THE GOLDEN GRASS will be taking those psychedelic textures and jaw-dropping proto-metal moves to audiences across the USA. Confirmed dates and venues are as follows:

June 4 – Pittsburgh, PA @ Brillobox w/ OUTSIDE INSIDE + COME HOLY SPIRIT
June 5 – Cleveland, OH @ Now That’s Class w/ ELECTRIC LUCIFER + WEATHERED LOVER
June 6 – Columbus, OH @ The Tree Bar w/ MAIN STREET GOSPEL
June 7 – Cincinnati, OH @ House Show (e-mail pactinkrecords@yahoo.com for RSVP/Facebook invite)
June 8 – Louisville, KY @ Modern Cult Records w/ TEMPLE OF THE GOLDEN DAWN
June 9 – Akron, OH @ Annabell’s w/ Mike Cummings (BACKWOODS PAYBACK)
June 10 – Detroit, MI @ Painted Lady Lounge
June 14 – Brooklyn, NY @ Northside Fest/Spike Hill w/ RUBY THE HATCHET + NIGHTBITCH + GODS + CONTACT
June 15 – Brooklyn, NY @ Northside Fest/Baby’s All Right w/ ANCIENT SKY, SLOTHRUST + NOWAY? + Drippy Eye Projections <***matinee/early show***>

THE GOLDEN GRASS formed in early 2013, and before they had even played their first show, they were signed to Svart Records. Their debut 7” was issued in October of that, as a split release with US label Electric Assault Records. Since playing their first show in September of 2013, they’ve shared the stage with an impressive and eclectic range of rock and metal groups, including Windhand, Natur, Ramming Speed, Serpent Throne, Wolf People, and an appearance at the Cincy Psych Fest.

What truly sets THE GOLDEN GRASS apart from the pack of modern ’70s-inspired music is their relentlessly upbeat, soulful energy and feel-good vibe, which is a welcome departure from the faceless sea of proto-metal/doom bands currently drowning the underground scene. This catchy five-track album will make you dance, smile, and catch yourself singing along! This album is a sure treat for fans of classic underground hard rock such as Truth and Janey, Dust, and Josefus as well as fans of classic UK psychedelia such as The Move, The Pretty Things, and Mighty Baby. THE GOLDEN GRASS will also greatly appeal to folks into the contemporary sounds of Danava, Horisont, Graveyard, and Dead Man.

The album was recorded by Andrea Zavareei at Urban Spaceman Studio in Brooklyn, New York where many seminal early La Otracina albums were also tracked. The album was mixed by Jeff Berner at Galuminum Foil Studio in Brooklyn. Jeff has also recorded albums by Naam, Heliotropes, and Weird Owl, among others, at this studio, and he is also a member of Psychic TV. The album was mastered by Brad Boatright at Audiosiege. The artwork was constructed by Niko Potocnjak of Seven That Spells. The collective experiences and talents of all involved were of utmost importance to the creation of this album.

THE GOLDEN GRASS is:
*Adam Kriney – drums/vocals (also of LA OTRACINA and past tour member of NEBULA/CULT OF YOUTH/CASTANETS/CLOUDLAND CANYON)
*Michael Rafalowich – electric guitar/vocals (also of STRANGE HAZE/WHOOPING CRANE and past tour member of TAV FALCO’S PANTHER BURNS)
*Joe Noval – electric bass

MORE INFO:
www.facebook.com/thegoldengrass
www.svartrecords.com
www.facebook.com/thegoldengrass

The Golden Grass, “One More Time” official video

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Black Moon Circle, Black Moon Circle: Space Disposition

Posted in Reviews on May 28th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

The self-titled debut from Norwegian trio Black Moon Circle makes little effort to mask its intent. It is a space rock record, built around three heavy jams split effectively onto two vinyl sides, and for all its sense of exploration, improvisation and general farouttery, there’s an encouraging lack of pretense. Based in Trondheim, which on the average December day will see roughly five hours of sunshine — in June, that goes to over 20 hours per day — the core three-piece of vocalist/bassist Øyvin Engan, guitarist/vocalist Vemund Engan and drummer Per Andreas Gulbrandsen teamed up with none other than Øresund Space Collective swirlmaster and friend of the site Scott “Dr. Space” Heller for the recording of Black Moon Circle, and Heller‘s noisemaking and matter/energy disruptors contribute much to the open feel and heavy psych feel of the release. He’s proved ready to jam under most circumstances — this year’s Roadburn had him paired with Carlton Melton and Øresund Space Collective have a collaboration forthcoming with Damo Suzuki of Can — so that he’d be malleable to Black Moon Circle‘s “Enigmatic SuperBandit” is relatively expected, though how well the fit works winds up a pleasant surprise, as Black Moon Circle retain some of the roots of structured songwriting amid their propensity for jamming out into the stellar reaches across “Plains” (8:22), “American Eagle” (5:28) and the side-B-consuming “Enigmatic SuperBandit” (14:24). Their debut feels quick at a little over 28 minutes, but it is an engaging single-LP nonetheless that is able to pull together a cohesive vibe with apparent ease in that time. You won’t hear me complain.

And of course, calling in Dr. Space to add nebulas of effects to the songs isn’t going to hurt either, but Black Moon Circle distinguish themselves even apart from that partnership, with a languid rolling groove on “Plains” that sets up the flow to play out over the subsequent two pieces. Each song has plenty of room to jam, and the Engans and Gulbrandsen use that time well, but both “Plains” and “American Eagle” — presumably not named after the clothing company, though one never knows — make an impression with their verses and choruses as well, a laid back sense of structure emerging that moves well into and through wah-soaked spaces. It’s telling when they bring back the chorus of “Plains” after an extended guitar solo to finish out the song with a proper bookend, showing commitment to songwriting as well as to instrumental exploration, and that balance serves Black Moon Circle over the course of “American Eagle” and even “Enigmatic SuperBandit” as well. It’s a mood and dreamy feel not so unlike what New York heavy psych jammers Sun Voyager have concocted in their early going, and some post-shoegaze vocal similarity can be heard too, but that seems most likely to be a case of shared root influences and sonic coincidence, and one can just as likely hear some early 2000s Swedish heavy rock — Dozer, Lowrider – at work underneath “American Eagle” as anything more recent. Either way, Black Moon Circle do well taking these elements and beginning to carve out their own feel from them, “American Eagle” breaking cleanly at about 3:30 in to shift into a bluesy, open-sounding build of a solo before also returning to its central hook, no less encompassing than that of the opener.

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Friday Full-Length: Naam, Naam

Posted in Bootleg Theater on May 24th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Naam, Naam (2009)

The 2009 self-titled debut from Brooklyn heavy psych forerunners Naam is an album that’s only grown in my esteem since its release, now five years ago, on Tee Pee Records. I think at the time my head was still trying to wrap around the preceding Kingdom EP, so when the full-length came out with the sprawling, 16-minute “Kingdom” as the title-track, it was almost too easy for me to take it as an extension of Naam‘s first offering, rather than the standalone beast that it is. At least that’s how I see it now. Looking back on the interview I did with drummer Eli Pizzuto around when it came out, I seemed pretty into it. Half a decade can do funny things to your brain.

Point is that for as brilliantly open and far out as the entire hour-long stretch of the album is, there’s no part of it that’s to be overlooked. It was last July that I most recently had the occasion to catch them live, which frankly is longer than I’d prefer — Massachusetts has a lot of rock and roll but not much of it could be called psychedelic — and Naam have grown beyond where they were with the self-titled even before you get to factors like the full-time addition of John Weingarten on keys, but that doesn’t at all diminish the appeal of this record for me, the bombastic space rock moments or the quiet stretch of “Tidal Barrens.” There’s so much here that I still feel like I’m digging into something new when I put it on.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

I went and saw Negative Reaction tonight in Allston. Speaking of “been too long.” Ken-E Bones and company were in top form and got a great response from the crowd. Might be Tuesday before I get a review up, depending on holiday plans and whatnot for Memorial Day, but either way I got one or two pics at O’Brien’s to go with, so I’ll roll with that. Basically though it was just awesome to see them and to talk with Bones because, again, it had been a long time.

Also on Tuesday, look out for a full stream of the new Serpentine Path album. It’s out Tuesday, so we’re doing it up for the release date. I’m also interviewing John Garcia on Tuesday, and his solo album isn’t out for a while yet, but would be good to get that posted sooner rather than later. Wednesday I’m premiering a new Mars Red Sky video as well, so much goodness to come. At some point in there I’m also going to squeeze a Radio Moscow album review, and maybe one for that new Eyehategod too if I have time. That too depends on the holiday.

If you’re celebrating Memorial Day, I hope you have a good and not overly jingoistic one. Please have fun and be safe and I’ll see you back here either Monday or Tuesday for more of the ol’ clacky-clacky on the keyboard.

Please check out the forum and radio stream.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

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Hjortene Self-Titled Debut Available Now

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 23rd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Spoiler alert: the self-titled Hjortene debut has actually been out since last month, but when the band got in touch I was at Roadburn and I didn’t get the chance to check it out. They boast guests like Valient Himself from Valient Thorr and Lorenzo Woodrose from Baby Woodrose, but the real appeal of Hjortene‘s Hjortene is the fluid Fu Manchu-meets-Queens of the Stone Age vibe the Copenhagen trio puts together on cuts like “Weber” and “Pounding Hammer,” a rich fuzz tone getting a memorable push from a clean, full production that seems to border on blown-out without ever sounding dirtier than it means to. It’s a cool if familiar vibe, and they flesh it out with some punkadelic touches on “James Brown” and the jammier stretch of closer “Canada.”

I guess what it works out to is I probably should’ve checked this one out earlier and didn’t want you to also miss it if you hadn’t seen it yet. Info and audio follows from the PR wire:

VALIENT THORR and BABY WOODROSE on new album from HJORTENE

Well hidden in the forests of Denmark Hjortene have during the last year worked on their 3rd release – and their first album. The self titled record was recorded live at Black Tornado studios in Copenhagen, Denmark with Anders Onsberg Hansen (Baby Woodrose, Spids Nøgenhat, Highway Child) and the album is indeed very warm sounding since all songs are recorded direct to analogue tape (btw on the same tape recorder Nirvana used to record ‘In Utero’).

On the album, the band worked with three distinct handpicked guest musicians:

— Valient Himself from American Valient Thorr lend his vocal duties on the opener 180.000 km/t. The guest vocals became possible after a long correspondence between the lead singer and the band, and the recording took place in a conference room at the venue before Valient Thorr’s last gig in Copenhagen.

— Lorenzo Woodrose from Baby Woodrose and Spids Nøgenhat is an old friend of the band, who guests on Canada with a 1½ minute double fuzz- space echo-wah solo, where he plays against himself in guitar sequences intertwining endlessly.

— President Fetch/Molle from legendary danish punkband President Fetch participates on the shortest track of the record, James Brown. The President wrote the lyrics about the King of Soul, who wishes to fly with UFO’s in Thuringia and walk on coals with the Mau Mau.

The sound of Hjortene is like dry wood beeing chopped with a fuzz pedal set to 11, and an old tube amp puking blood. The album is packed with solid bass heavy riffs that will cater for fans of Fu Manchu, Brant Bjork, Nebula, The Sword and Mudhoney, but with more unconventional song structures and experimental (animal-)sounds. Previously all Hjortene’s songs have been in their native language, but on this album Danish and English is mixed. The lyrics are a bipolar mixture focusing from birth to death and on the mind’s darkets corners. For example the 9 minute long Canada: What happens, when you’re sitting in the most peaceful enviroment in the forests of Canada, and suddenly you feel yourself so clearly that all the bad things you have accumulated over time just comes tumbling.

In 2004 Hjortene won an P3 Guld-award and later they released the 10” mini album ’Brøl Stød Løb’ (2007). In 2008 Hjortene released the split-EP ‘World Domination’ (2008) with Swedish band Omar.

tracklist
a
180.000 km/t (feat. Valient Himself) 3:04
Igennem Hårde Tider 3:55
Weber 3:17
Classic Rock FM 2:47
Epic Indian 6:36

b
Pounding Hammer 4:36
James Brown (feat. President Fetch) 1:46
Hold Dig Væk 4:17
Canada (feat. Lorenzo Woodrose) 9:05

http://hjortene.bandcamp.com/
https://soundcloud.com/hjortene
facebook.com/hjortene

Hjortene, Hjortene (2014)

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Quemos, Quemos: Cult of Sacrifice

Posted in Reviews on May 20th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Rife with intangible horrors, the three-track self-titled debut from Peruvian blackened noisemakers Quemos seemed to have originally appeared in 2012, but has been picked up for physical issue by Japan’s Golden Procession. Easy to see why, as it’s a cohesive execution of immersive, mood-altering darkness, a grueling stint of bum-out malevolence. Not raging, barely moving, the Lima-based four-piece use spacious minimalism to set the stage for dark arts drama, throat-singing vocals à la Attila Csihar gurgling atop atmospherics bleak enough to absorb the light around them. Quemos make it quickly apparent they hold structure in little regard, as the sprawling 26-minute opener “The Portal Must be Opened with the Blood of Their Throats” gradually unfurls — ancient and dismal — over its first several minutes, drone and ambient cymbal work shifting into the emerging crag and lurching progression. All four members of the band have adopted noms de guerre for the project, and the CD credits High Priest of Moab with “chanting and scriptures” (aka vocals), Harvester of the Dying Sun with “seeds of knowledge and soundscapes of madness” (I’m guessing guitar) the well-hyphenated He-Who-Walks-Among-the-Shadows with “discipline, aural obscurity and beyond” (bass maybe, or noise) and Kenotic Deconsecrator with “unholy blasts of darkness” (drums). Fair enough. A little over the top, maybe, but that’s clearly the point. The mention of Moab is particularly interesting since the band take their name from a Moabite deity, so at least there’s some consistency in the thematics at play.

Whether that’s the god to which the lyrics of “The Portal Must be Opened with the Blood of Their Throats” and its 19-minute follow-up “Light is No Longer with Us” seem to be making offerings, I don’t know, but the two tracks and Quemos‘ much-shorter instrumental finale, “Dawn of Moab,” reside firmly in the cultish sphere of black metal artistry. For having drums credited as “blasts,” there are no blastbeats. Even at its most sonically active, Quemos barely gets above a crawl, tempo-wise. Its brutality derives from the ambience and the harshness of some of its noise, like that in the middle of “Light is No Longer with Us.” That’s the case early in the opener as well, though it’s not particularly slow about arriving at the rumble ‘n’ gurgle that provides its crux. Within two minutes the vocals and drums have arrived. Noise and feedback swells and recedes in the mix around, but basically that’s what carries the track through the bulk of its time. The lyrics are a long sacrificial incantation — largely indecipherable from the audio, but presented in the CD liner — and it’s not so much a march that ensues as an excruciating stumble. Guitar arrives past five minutes in for one of several short-lived stays peppered throughout every couple of minutes, and as “The Portal…” moves toward 17 minutes, the drums cut out completely and the vocals stand alone over raw, droning noise. That’s the beginning of a final build, but even in its payoff, at about the 24-minute mark, the song maintains the tension that has driven it forward all along.

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