Posted in Whathaveyou on November 20th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
The self-titled debut 10″ EP from Chicago heavy ’10s boogie rockers Dead Feathers was originally due to be released by HeviSike Records in August, and I’d imagine that the delay in its coming out is probably owed to the same manufacturing holdups that just about every other imprint, band and record-pressing concern has been dealing with over the last year-plus. In any case, the songs have been streaming for a while now, and the platter itself is available to preorder from the label as of yesterday, in limited editions of gold and bone vinyl, different art between them and so on. They ship in January in time for a Jan. 15 official release date. Nothing like starting a New Year off with some groove.
Details go like this:
DEAD FEATHERS – EP [10″]
Ascend yourself into the blanketing incense smoke and celestial grooves that is Dead Feathers. Like the Night sky, this band is noting below a breath of fresh air. With melodic female Vocals and the Fuzz driven riffs you might as well be seeing the fortune teller herself when you see this band live. This band takes hold of you and does not let you go. Dead Feathers has shared the stage with countless Chicago bands and touring bands from all over North America alike. A group heavily influenced by rock bands of the 60’s and 70’s and the underground Psychedelic bands of today, They are currently in the process of recording their first full length album and playing in venues across Chicago.
Pre-Order from Thursday 19 November. Due to ship early January.
Debut EP by Chicago, IL psych rock five-piece Dead Feathers. Mastered by Welshman’s Pride.
This is a strictly limited edition numbered release of 500 copies.
– Deluxe Edition – £14 – 100 on GOLD vinyl – screen printed alternate art print (designed by Adam Burke, Nightjar Illustration) – exclusive Dead Feathers embroidered logo patch – individually numbered record jacket
– Limited Edition – £9 – 400 on bone-white vinyl – individually numbered record jacket
Posted in Whathaveyou on November 18th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
Veterans of Hoverfest and Ceremony of Sludge both twice over, Portland, Oregon’s Holy Grove are the latest group to be picked up by Heavy Psych Sounds for their next release. Either the Italian imprint has hit the lottery or I don’t know what, but it seems like a month hasn’t gone by in 2015 that another announcement of a forthcoming album hasn’t come through. And then the records actually come out! That’s an entirely different level of impressive right there.
Holy Grove‘s most recent offering is 2014’s two-songer, Live at Jooniors (review here), and they’ll make their full-length debut through Heavy Psych Sounds in March 2016. Count on it.
Announcement follows, as posted by the label:
HEAVY PSYCH SOUNDS Records&Booking is so pleased to annunce the signing of a new band in the roster: ***HOLY GROVE***
(70’s Rock-Stoner Rock-Fuzz Riff Rock)
Remember when heavy rock bands wrote songs? In the early ‘70s, Grand Funk, Bang, and Deep Purple brought hooks and choruses to seriously weighty tunes. In 2015, Portland, Oregon’s Holy Grove walks in the long footsteps of tradition, pitting soulful vocals, searing guitar solos, and swinging grooves into its own Bic-flicking dinosaur stomp. After wowing NW audiences for several years, the band is now ready to unveil its self-titled debut—seven songs of blazing riffs, and cloud-piercing wails, with enough rhythmic heft to satisfy today’s doom-hungry audience. Vidal’s lyrics of myth and fantasy coast on a massive flying carpet of guitar riffs, kept aloft by a pounding pulverizing rhythm section. Holy Grove is far more than a toe-dipped-in-the magic spring, but a patiently crafted statement of intent produced by the band with major love and assistance from master “engine-ear” Billy Anderson (Sleep, Melvins, etc).
Holy Grove is: Andrea Vidal, Gregg Emley, Trent Jacobs, and Ryan Northrop.
HPS Records will release the debut selftitled album late march 2016 in Vinyl/LTD Vinyl/CD/Digital.
Posted in Whathaveyou on November 17th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
Norwegian classic doom upstarts Dunbarrow make no bones about their primary influence. They describe themselves as, “A freelance fiend in a ram’s head,” and indeed, First Daze Here-era Pentagram firmly holds sway over “Lucifer’s Child,” which is the lead-off single from the Trondheim four-piece’s debut full-length, set to be released on Jan. 29 through Heksekunst Productions. An analog vibe and loose rhythmic swing take root, and the band manage to make an impression in a sound that, since Witchcraft took it on with their own self-titled 11 years ago, has only become more identifiable.
No small feat on their part or on that of Dunbarrow for delivering “Lucifer’s Child” with the energy they do. Their long-player arrives after two prior EPs — 2014’s two-song When it’s all Over and the year prior’s The Crows ain’t Far Behind — as well as their initial single in 2012 (that track also appeared on the first EP), and while I don’t know what will be on the record apart from “Lucifer’s Child” itself, that is, whether or not any of the other material will be reused, it’s all available for streaming on their Bandcamp if you’re feeling like you’d like to get introduced. Links and info on the single follows the artwork below, which is by Adam Burke, and which is awesome:
New Single by Norwegian Proto-Doomers DUNBARROW
Summoned to play it the old way in a new age, Dunbarrow is drawing inspiration from bands like Pentagram, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Black Sabbath and Witchcraft in order to play Norwegian Proto-Doom. With their new single out and their debut album waiting around the bend, the tales of the Norwegian winter will reach us all.
“Lucifer’s Child” is the single for our upcoming self-titled debut album – Dunbarrow. The record will be released on Heksekunst Productions on January 29th 2016.
Posted in Reviews on November 11th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
Newly-formed trio With the Dead make zero effort to hide their malevolent intent. As frontman Lee Dorrian said in a recent interview here, they wanted to make, “the most depressive, soul-destroying heavy record we can possibly make between us,” and the six songs/42 minutes of their self-titled Rise Above Records debut bleed that intent front to back. Dorrian, both formerly of Cathedral and the head of Rise Above, adds his signature vocal declarations to the filth laden sludge ritual riffing of guitarist Tim Bagshaw (also bass) and the plod is pushed along by drummer Mark Greening.
Both Greening and Bagshaw were founding members of Electric Wizard, who also of course worked with Rise Above for years, but if anything is going to prevent With the Dead being pigeonholed as the “People Screwed Over by Jus Oborn Club,” it’s the album itself. More akin to the obscure, extreme drear proffered by Greening and Bagshaw together in Ramesses — though the lead of “I am Your Virus” has a touch of witchculting to it — With the Dead ultimately stands apart even from that in its vicious aural force and singular darkness. There are elements of preaching to the converted, which is to say that if With the Dead is the first doom record you’ve ever heard, your appreciation for it will be somewhat one-dimensional, but honestly, these songs have such a starting-point feel to them that I doubt audience was a consideration one way or another. Still, as doom for doomers, it stands among the top debuts and most crushing albums of 2015, and absolutely cakes itself in dirt and muck to meet its stated goal.
In a way, that’s the story of the thing. They made the album to be unreasonably heavy and succeeded.
It is not a record rife with nuance, and while the recording job by Jaime Gomez Arellano allows for an abyss of depth to the mix, With the Dead are much more concerned with bludgeoning than impressing with their subtlety. That’s true as feedback and odd sampling starts “Crown of Burning Stars,” which launches the album with a mid-paced roll that signals their immediate sonic dominance. Specifically to Dorrian‘s credit as the lyricist, he brings a hook to each of these tracks, and that of “Crown of Burning Stars” is particularly memorable as the leadoff, giving way to the faster “The Cross,” wherein a torrential riff races forward into chaos marked out by churning rhythms and, in the second half, some sampled Latin praying over a languid but thoroughly doomed solo. Bullshit factor: zero.
Closing out side A is “Nephthys,” a paean to the Egyptian goddess of the dead, which finds itself in comfortable nod as Bagshaw‘s riff opens up to Dorrian‘s effects-laden vocals. In addition to the chorus, Dorrian takes a page out of Black Widow‘s book, repurposing the “Come to the Sabbat” cadence of “Come, come, come to the sabbat/Come to the sabbat/Satan’s there,” into “Come, come, come to me Nephthys/Come to me Nephthys/I’m waiting here.” The affect is no less ritualized than the original, and Greening‘s toms plod out beneath the chant, punctuating and bolstering the words before Bagshaw takes over on a solo and they close out with noise and feedback.
For those who’d indoctrinate themselves into With the Dead‘s tumults and stretches of outright slaughter, “Living with the Dead” will no doubt be a highlight. After a quick sample, the song slams in and immediately chugs out the first line repeating the title. A defining moment for the album, its hypnotic through the guitar work of Bagshaw and and the lyrical repetitions, but more, it speaks to the kind of brutal decay on offer throughout. Later, the track offers as close to a “letup” as With the Dead ultimately come in a midsection break of organ, sparse guitar and drums that builds its way back up at around four and a half minutes in, at which point the riff that will lead the way out is established and ridden hard for the remaining three minutes, some far-back shouts providing a human touch early but giving way to the guitar, bass and drums soon enough. The subsequent “I am Your Virus” has a break of its own, but it’s shorter and the surroundings are overall less destructive, a companion piece for “The Cross,” though not nearing the same tempo, and when Greening crashes to start closer “Screams from My Own Grave,” it’s a clear signal of the slog that’s about to ensue.
Much to the band’s credit, they stick to the lumbering dirge the entire 8:40, and yeah, there’s a bit of weirding out with organ and all-tinted-brown guitar swirl, but the core of the finale, like the core of the album as a whole, is in the oppressive weight brought to bear. It’s easy to think that With the Dead might invariably expand their sound some as they move forward, which they reportedly will, but their real challenge in doing so will be finding a way to progress (regress?) and keep things interesting for themselves while also holding onto the rawness that makes their debut so unbridled and harsh. Or maybe they’ll go prog — who the hell knows? Point is, With the Dead‘s With the Dead is a temple built on misanthropic riffs and standout performances from three longtime contributors to the style who very obviously knew what they were doing when they came together in the first place. Whatever they do next, this album will remain devastating.
With the Dead, “Crown of Burning Stars” official video
Posted in Features on November 5th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
It must be surreal in some ways for Lee Dorrian to be talking about fronting a new band. After a 23-year run, he put Cathedral to bed in 2013 following their final album, The Last Spire (review here), and despite contributing to the reborn side-project Septic Tank, his reported intent was to focus on his label, Rise Above Records, which has become a defining presence in underground tastemaking. Releases by the likes of Ghost, Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, Blood Ceremony and so on have expanded what the very notion of heaviness might encompass on a given release, and Dorrian has been at the core of that process.
Enter With the Dead. Guitarist Tim Bagshaw (also bass on the record) and drummer Mark Greening — both formerly of Electric Wizard and Ramesses — were getting together a new band with a clear intent toward raw, decaying doom, and they needed a singer. Tracks came together, they hit the studio, sent Dorrian the tracks, hit the studio again, and With the Dead‘s self-titled debut emerged — on Rise Above, obviously — living up to its promise of low-drama high-fuckall doom. To-date, I don’t think they’ve played in the same room together.
The album is a masterful churn that sludges up some of the ethereal ritualizing of Ramesses and finds Dorrian right at home in the dense, miserable, but somehow-still-atmospheric swirl. It’s a sound that makes sense as a logical extension of the work from those who made it, but it also pushes forward into territory not quite covered by anyone’s past work, its seven tracks digging into a tonal muck on songs like “Living with the Dead” or “I am Your Virus” and showing the band as immediately able to control the madness they evoke. That turns out to be one of its great strengths, but if With the Dead are to continue, no doubt it will also be the beginning point for a progression all their own.
So are With the Dead to continue, or is it a one-off? That and a lot of questions about starting a new band, recording, singing over riffs not written by Gaz Jennings and much more were on my mind when I spoke to Dorrian for the first time since 2010 (interview here) about the project, the potential of playing live, curating Roadburn 2016 and, of course, how the whole thing got started.
Please find the complete Q&A after the jump, and enjoy.
[Note: Press play above to hear Sunder’s Sunder in full. It’s out tomorrow, Oct. 30, on Tee Pee and Crusher Records. Preorders are available from Tee Pee, at iTunes or on Amazon.]
Don’t call it a reboot. More like a do-over, maybe. The story goes like this: Early in 2014, a band from Lyon, France, called The Socks released their self-titled debut (review here) on Small Stone Records. Good album. Very much in the post-Kadavar/Graveyard retro-boogie vein, but ably executed, particularly for a young band on their first LP. About a year and a half later, that same band — identical lineup: guitarist/vocalist Julien Méret, drummer Jessy Ensenat, bassist Vincent Melay and organist/backing vocalist Nicolas Baud — reemerge as Sunder, and take a second shot at a self-titled debut, this time through Tee Pee and Crusher Records.
Near as I can tell, the major jump is in Baud swapping out a guitar for keys, but one of the most striking aspects of Sunder‘s first album is that it really is far enough away from what these guys were doing as The Socks to justify being a different band. Songs like the fortified opening salvo of “Deadly Flower,” “Daughter of the Snows” and “Cursed Wolf” — which were also included on Sunder‘s demo (review here) earlier this year — give the listener an immediately fuller sense of breadth, incorporating elements culled from earlier psychedelic and garage rock, less directly indebted to one band or another than to an aesthetic itself that, while undeniably drawn from these decades-old tenets, sounds refreshing for the nuance and melody with which Sunder carry it. If this is a do-over, they’re doing it right.
As with their prior incarnation, Sunder‘s debut arrives with remarkably little pretense. Its nine tracks comprise a thoroughly manageable 33:43, and from the beginning organ line and fuzz of “Deadly Flower” (video premiere here), the foursome maintain an efficient balance of resonant hooks, open vibe and pervasive groove. Nothing’s overcooked, but the material feels thought through and vocal arrangements tap Beatles-style harmonies without falling into a post-Uncle Acid trap, and while “Daughter of the Snows” has some of that Graveyardian swing, Sunder bring more than enough of their own personality to make the shuffle fit with the surrounding material, “Cursed Wolf” playing back and forth on the throttle early before shifting into a sun-caked midsection fuzz jam that seems like it’s going to be a departure point for a build but winds up trailing back to the verse and chorus to close — just a little break from reality, then. A welcome one at that.
“Wings of the Sun” is complementary in its trippy spirit and vocal harmonies, natural sounding but still leaving space for Ensenat‘s drums to thud out an easily-followed beat or for Baud‘s organ to bolster the overarching lysergic nostalgia, which presents a mood much more 1966 than 1971, leaning well over the cusp of the psychedelic era as though — not to harp on it — trying to capture a moment between Rubber Soul and Revolver, plus the organ and minus the cynicism that would later inform what became heavy rock. Sunder‘s Sunder has several legitimately gorgeous stretches, and “Wings of the Sun” is one of them.
Centerpiece “Bleeding Trees” follows and is perhaps even more of an accomplishment, since not only does it bask in the same warmth as the song before it, but it pushes that warmth to a weightier purpose. A darker turn in the verse, shoutier in its bridge, more direct in its choral fullness, “Bleeding Trees” brings out Mellotron backing for a high-point guitar solo and is still done in under four minutes, setting a quick return to the sun with “Eye Catcher,” an A-side in the making that freaks out on fuzz in its first half and goes buzzsaw in its second, all while keeping a fast pace and holding firm to the energy Sunder have shown throughout.
Méret presides over the subsequent “Thunder and Storm” with crisp frontman presence, though the backing he receives from the layered keys and Ensenat‘s what-did-the-drum-do-to-deserve-such-a-beating snare is not to be understated. These quick bursts in “Eye Catcher” and “Thunder and Storm” help propel Sunder‘s second half, but also add to the complexity of the first, expanding the album’s opening progression by showing the band aren’t necessarily beholden to one tack or another. The dynamic is emphasized in the slowdown of the love-lorn “Don’t Leave it Behind,” an open crash, choice key line and balance in the high and low end showing just how deep in the mix Sunder can do while Méret — if I’m not mistaken — turns the vocals backwards from within the swirl. Closing out, the swaggering roll of “Lucid Dreams” is as close as they come to the five-minute mark at 4:51 and a legitimately earned victory lap through another memorable chorus.
It’s no small thing for a band to stop what they’re doing, look around them, decide they want to be somewhere else sonically, and then actually make that change happen. Not only to do it, but to do it without changing a lineup. Sunder‘s first LP is a standout release for the context in which it arrives, but it’s the songwriting and the potential the band shows in their arrangements that make it one of 2015’s strongest debuts, as brazen as it is completely realized. One hopes in listening to it that Méret, Baud, Melay and Ensenat have found the place they’ll call home in terms of style, because what they’re doing across these tracks suits them well and seems to be ripe for any number of avenues for future progression.
Posted in audiObelisk on October 27th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
Helsinki classic progressive rockers Malady will make their self-titled debut Nov. 13 through Svart Records. The Finnish five-piece explore an encouragingly broad range of textures across the six-track/39-minute LP’s span, and while definitely nestled into atmospheres bolstered by organic-sounding production and ’70s-style groove, the mostly-instrumental outfit bring a sense of individual presence to the material via song structures that seem to be as much about which parts their riding out as which serve as transitional moments. Which is to say that on songs like the opener “Kantaa Taakan Maa” and its side B counterpart, “Unessakävelijä,” they pick their battles well, so that each piece establishes its own flow within the overriding pastoral vibe of Malady as a whole. And while the album has plenty of more upbeat, “active” moments, it’s left just as much to the ambient stretches to set the mood of the release. Together since 2010 and relying on a healthy dose of keys and Hammond from Ville Rohiola to add complexity to their arrangements, Malady offer patience and serenity beyond their years and seem to work directly in contrast to their name.
Guitarists Tony Björkman and Babak Issabeigloo (the latter also vocals), bassist Jonni Tanskanen, Rohiola and drummer Juuso Jylhänlehto comprise the lineup, and in true classic prog fashion, their debut is more about what’s created by the whole than a clinic of individual performances. Shorter, acoustic-based pieces like “Loittoneva Varjoni” and closer “Kakarlampi” — the latter caked in Mellotron — speak to some folkish influence, but really it’s more about the front-to-back scope, which is summed up efficiently in the 10-minute “Aarnivalkea” or side A’s “Pieniin Saariin,” which eases its way on with a drum fill before unfolding the album’s most fluid build, peppered early on by verses but immersive instrumentally and geared more toward the peaceful, vinyl-ready naturalism of its ebbs and flows, coming to a head near the midpoint, receding and rising again, the keys and guitars bringing about an apex to pay off Malady‘s first half while leading the way into the jazzy adventurousness of “Unessakävelijä” at the start of the second. Across this current of shifts and changes, Malady retain a sense of control and unpretentious poise that works against “debut” expectation and speaks to their potential going forward, but I won’t take away from their self-titled’s intrinsic value either. Whatever it might lead to, Malady‘s Malady is worth hearing now as well.
Right now, as it happens, is when you can stream “Pieniin Saariin” as a track premiere on the player below. More info on the release follows, courtesy of the PR wire:
Finland has a long-standing tradition of atmospheric, quirky progressive rock, from genre forefathers like Wigwam, Magyar, and Tasavallan Presidentti to modern-day stalwarts such as Sammal and Liekki. Svart Records is proud to present the latest link in the chain: Malady.
When Malady was founded in Helsinki by a bunch of twenty-somethings in 2010, the band members had one goal: to create one album before turning 50. This attitude for making music describes the band quite well. Music is all that matters; stardom is secondary. Svart will release Malady’s self-titled debut album on November 13th on CD, LP, and digital formats.
Even though the band are deeply into the retro aesthetic, and building the album with the right kind of sounds took plenty of effort, the music is not just about being vintage. The storytelling mood of Malady’s meandering songs is supported by an analog soundscape. Malady’s music is, at the same time, subtle and substantial.
After the debut album was completed two decades before the self-imposed deadline, the desire to continue making music lived on. The story will continue.
Tracklisting for Malady’s Malady 1. Kantaa taakan maa 2. Loittoneva varjoni 3. Pieniin saariin 4. Unessakävelijä 5. Aarnivalkea 6. Kakarlampi
The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, The Crazy World of Arthur Brown (1968)
In the vast annals of weirdo rock, there’s a special place for The Crazy World of Arthur Brown. The soul of “Child of My Kingdom,” the progressive theatrics of “Time,” the classic proto-Satanic heavy rock of “Fire,” the organ-laced social commentary groove of “Come and Buy,” and because hey, why not, covers of Sreamin’ Jay Hawkins and James Brown (no relation) — it’s an album that, at nearly 50 years old, could be read as a founding moment for what would become prog as much a watershed moment for psychedelia. Its titular figure, vocalist Arthur Brown, served as a template for the likes of Alice Cooper, and while the actual band The Crazy World of Arthur Brown were short-lived in this incarnation (at least until 1988’s Strangelands), the 1968 self-titled debut has nonetheless been a signpost for freaks lost in a sea of normalcy: This Way to Where Things Don’t Make Sense in the Best Way Possible. It’s a long sign. It would have to be.
The album — and I don’t even know which version of it is above, but it’s one of them — is rendered human by two things: Its jazzy, schooled-sounding underpinnings and the acknowledgement that the reality in which it takes place is crazy. Brown, keyboardist/orchestrator Vincent Crane, bassist Nick Greenwood, and drummers Drachen Theaker and John MarshallThe Who‘s Pete “I’m Writing a Book” Townshend as associate producer — conjured nightmares of the acid era, and these songs are as much beyond psychedelia as they are of it. But they’re not happenstance, and calling it “Crazy” proves that. While they weren’t the only ones at the time seeming to fly off the rails with sound or stage visuals, that consciousness might be The Crazy World of Arthur Brown‘s greatest contribution to progressive rock, since as the likes of Pink Floyd, King Crimson, Jethro Tull and of course Arthur Brown continued to delve deeper into what eventually took shape as the style, it was that sense of being in control of the moment that would be so pivotal to making it what it was. Even when control seemed impossible, which on a lot of The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, it definitely does. And yeah, if they only came down long enough to name the band and record and then took lysergic flight again, it still counts. Still counts. He’s the god of hellfire. It counts.
You can take a pretty cold, academic appreciation of what it has to offer and its various , but the bottom line is that The Crazy World of Arthur Brown continues to present a vision that nothing else quite matches, and which doesn’t quite match anything else. It is warped in the truest and most satisfying of stylistic senses.
As always, I hope you enjoy.
I’m not sure I have it in me to articulate how done I am with this week.
Okay, yeah, maybe I did have it in me after all.
Next week is already busy. Monday’s locked in with premieres from Cities of Mars and Young Hunter. Tuesday is a song from Malady; folky Finnish prog — you’re gonna love it, as I do. Wednesday a track premiere from The Heavy Eyes. Thursday a full-album stream from Sunder, formerly known as The Socks, and Friday is… something else? Well, if nothing else I’ll put up that Lee Dorrian interview about With the Dead. A lot, a lot, a lot coming up. I already have something slated for Monday, Nov. 2 as well, so yeah, pretty packed. Good thing I don’t have a full-time job or anything that includes, I don’t know, a modest expectation of my time and mental faculties. That would make everything terrible.
Oh yeah, Monday night is also the Acid King/Gozu show in Boston. Might be Wednesday before I can get a review posted of that, but as soon as I can I will. I think that will be the only show I’ve been to this month — again, this whole “having a job” thing — but I’m going to try to make the most of it. Much as one can, anyhow.