The Obelisk Presents: The Top 20 Singles, EPs, Splits and Demos of 2015

Posted in Features on December 29th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

top 20 short releases of 2015

Please note: This list is not culled in any way from the Readers Poll, which is ongoing. If you haven’t yet contributed your favorites of 2015 to that, please do.

What’s a short release? Anything that’s not a full-length. I’ve done this list in the past and given a small list — The Top 20 EPs, Splits, Demos and Singles, or whatever — but “Short Releases” seemed more concise, and believe it or not, that’s something I shoot for.

Essentially, what we’re taking a look at here is everything else a band might put out in a given year. No question that albums are where the greatest impact is made over the longer term, but from landmark 7″s to EPs that provide crucial experiments or serve notice of bands solidifying their sound or marking pivotal first impressions, the shorter offerings have tremendous value, and it’s worth considering them on their own merit, rather than in comparison to LPs directly.

I know for a fact that there are releases I’ve missed here. Particularly among the Bandcamp-only demos, there’s just so much out there that for any one person to keep up with all of it is even more impossible than it’s ever been before. Before you berate me immediately with, “Hey you forgot X Band!” and start throwing tomatoes at your computer or mobile device screen, please keep in mind The Obelisk is run by a single individual and there are only so many hours in the day. As always, I do the best I can.

Here we go:

foehammer foehammer

The Obelisk Presents: The Top 20 Short Releases of 2015

1. Foehammer, Foehammer EP
2. Mos Generator & Stubb, The Theory of Light and Matter Split
3. Sun Voyager, Lazy Daze EP
4. All Them Witches, A Sweet Release
5. Geezer & Borracho, The Second Coming of Heavy: Chapter 1 Split
6. Fatso Jetson & Farflung, Split
7. Eggnogg & Borracho, Sludgy Erna Bastard Split 7″
8. Shroud Eater, Face the Master EP
9. Bedroom Rehab Corporation, Fortunate Some EP
10. Stars that Move, Demo Songs
11. Wight, Helicopter Mama 7″
12. Thera Roya, Unraveling EP
13. Shatner, EP
14. Cities of Mars, Cyclopean Ritual EP
15. Pyramidal & Domo, Jams from the Sun Split
16. Sandrider & Kinski, Split
17. Mount Hush, Low and Behold! EP
18. Godhunter & Amigo the Devil, The Outer Dark Split
19. Groan, Highrospliffics EP
20. Rozamov & Deathkings, Split

Honorable Mention

The Sunburst EP by Valley continues to resonate, as do splits from Goya & Wounded Giant and King Buffalo & Lé Betre. plus Derelics‘ IntroducingTime Rift‘s demo, the Carpet 7″, Watchtower‘s EP, Eternal Black‘s debut demo, Dorre‘s half-hour single One Collapsed at the Altar, and Mount Desert‘s two-songer all deserve serious consideration, as well I’m sure as many others.

Notes

It’s something of a break in routine for me to put any kind of debut in a top spot (other, of course, than on the list of debuts), but Foehammer simply would not be denied. The Virginia trio’s three-song EP release on Grimoire Records (LP on Australopithecus Records), it was a self-titled that seemed to be telling you the name of the band twice as if in a warning against forgetting it. And that warning was one to heed. Foehammer‘s first outing brought the Doom Capitol region to new heights of extremity, and while at over half-an-hour long it could’ve just as easily have been called a full-length, part of the overarching threat is what the band will bring to bear when they actually get around to their first LP.

A good number of splits included here, with Mos Generator and Stubb‘s The Theory of Light and Matter (HeviSike Records), Geezer and Borracho‘s The Second Coming of Heavy: Chapter 1 (launching a series for Ripple Music), Fatso Jetson and Farflung‘s joint release (on Heavy Psych Sounds) and Eggnogg and Borracho‘s Sludgy Erna Bastard (on Palaver Records) all cracking the top 10. No coincidence that Washington D.C. heavy riffers Borracho show up twice in that mix. As Pyramidal and Domo‘s blissful Jams from the Sun, Sandrider and Kinski‘s one-two, Godhunter and Amigo the Devil‘s Battleground Records collaboration and Rozamov and Deathkings‘ joint single feature between #11-20, a total of eight out of the full included 20 releases here are splits. Last year it was only five.

Whether that means the form is growing in an attempt to capture fickle social-media-age attention spans while cutting individual vinyl pressing costs, I couldn’t say — likely a combination of the two and more besides — but it’s noteworthy that a split is more than just a toss-off, between-albums castaway at this point, something for songs to later be included on rare-tracks comps. One could easily say the same of EPs as a whole. To that end, Sun Voyager‘s Lazy Daze was a brutal tease for the NY psychgaze outfit’s first album, hopefully out in 2016. And while All Them WitchesA Sweet Release was over 50 minutes long — longer, actually, than their Dying Surfer Meets His Maker LP, which was also issued this year — they considered it an EP/live collection, and that indeed proved how it worked best, immersive though its stretch remained.

Shroud Eater and Bedroom Rehab Corporation both turned in impressive outings that showed marked progression from their last time out, while Shatner‘s first batch of tracks tipped off a songwriting process well-honed and Stars that Move, Cities of Mars, Thera Roya and Mount Hush — I’d put Mount Desert in this category as well — had compelling outings that, like Foehammer at the top, showed much potential at work in formative sounds. Not to be forgotten, Wight‘s Helicopter Mama 7″ gave listeners a heads up on the funkified stylistic turn their upcoming full-length, Love is Not Only What You Know, will take even further, and UK stoner miscreants Groan proved once and for all that, along with logic and reason, a constantly changing lineup can’t hold back their good times.

Like I said — like I always say — if I left something out, let me know about it in the comments. Really let me have it. Call me a jerk. It’s cool. I can take it.

Please note: I can, in no way, take it.

Still, if I left something/someone out, I hope you’ll let me know. And please don’t forget that if you haven’t yet, you can still contribute your list of 2015 favorites to the year-end poll until Dec. 31. EPs, LPs, whatever, however many, it doesn’t matter. All entries are welcome there.

Thanks for reading.

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Shroud Eater Premiere “Face the Master” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on March 17th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

shroud eater

Oh, it does feel good to hear Shroud Eater crushing it once again. The Miami-based trio of guitarist/vocalist Jeannie Saiz, bassist/vocalist Janette Valentine and newcomer drummer Davin Sosa will release a new single, Face the Master, April 7 on Primitive Violence. It’ll be the first new Shroud Eater since 2013’s murder-prone Dead Ends EP (review here), which of course followed 2011’s debut full-length, ThunderNoise (review here) and their 2009 demo (review here), and while it’s just two songs and done in under seven minutes, it reestablishes the three-piece’s momentum, which seemed to be building to a tipping point coming out of Dead Ends, before the lineup change. Some East Coast tour dates following the Face the Master release won’t hurt in that regard either.

But mostly, it’s just a joy to have Shroud Eater back, the efficiency of their neo-sludge on display in the 2:44 “Face the Master,” which culls its lyrical basis from the 1979 film adaptation of Stephen King‘s Salem’s Lot, shroud eater face the masterand moves swiftly from destructive thrash to a slowed-down, harmonized finish worthy of whatever ’90s comparison you’d want to attach to it. The subsequent “House of Endings” is a little longer and more straightforward h-e-a-v-y rock, but spacious and huge-sounding as it rolls into a drawling solo in the second half that leads to a grueling semi-deconstruction, the resonant rumble being the last remaining element to fade out. The hope, of course, is that Face the Master precedes more to come from Shroud Eater either later this year or in 2016, but even if this is it for now, I doubt many who take the time to listen will be complaining.

The video for “Face the Master,” which I have the pleasure of premiering, was put together by Valentine and, like the song itself, features retooled clips from Salem’s Lot asking whether or not your faith is enough.

So is it?

Shroud Eater, “Face the Master” official video

Miami, Florida’s SHROUD EATER will release their two-song EP, Face The Master, April 7th, 2015 on regular and special-edition cassette via Primitive Violence Records & Visual, as well as a digital download. In celebration of the EP’s release, the band will also be embarking on an eight-day trek up and down the east coast in support of the release.

SHROUD EATER continue to deliver crushing alms to the altar of heavy. Their newest two-song offering, FACE THE MASTER, which was recorded by Davin Sosa and Aric Meerbott at Guzu Recordings, Miami, Florida and mixed and Mastered by Jay Matheson at The Jam Room in Columbia, SC, is a face-ripping romp in vicious tones, gritty vocals, and unexpected turns that have come to define the scuzzy Shroud Eater sound. Riding high off 2013’s highly acclaimed EP Dead Ends and re-energized with a new lineup, Shroud Eater has borne comparisons to metal behemoths like Kylesa, High on Fire, and Acid King, all while forging their own dynamic sound in the metal landscape.

TOUR DATES:
4/22 – Savannah, GA @ THE JINX
4/23 – Raleigh, NC @ The Maywood
4/24 – Philly, PA @ Kung Fu Necktie
4/25 – Brooklyn, NY @ St. Vitus
4/26 – Washington DC @ TBA
4/27 – Wilmington, NC @ TBA
4/28 – Charleston, SC – “Tunnel of Lust” House Show

SHROUD EATER is:
Jean Saiz: guitar, vocals
Janette Valentine: bass, vocals
Davin Sosa: drums, vocals

Shroud Eater on Thee Facebooks

Shroud Eater on Bandcamp

Shroud Eater’s website

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Shroud Eater and Orbweaver Announce Winter Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 7th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

I got a copy of Orbweaver‘s 2013 album, Strange Transmissions from the Neuralnomicon, to review because when I first heard it I was like, “Fuck yeah, this is awesome!” For what it’s worth, I was right about that, but when it came time to actually sit down and write it up, it felt like I was trying to get a square peg in a round hole and that as much as I dug the extreme and progressive death metal influence that the Miami outfit thickened to sludge viscosity, I couldn’t really make it fit. I felt bad (as I always do, and as I still do) that the band went out of their way to be cool enough to send the disc. The moral of the story was it wasn’t Orbweaver‘s fault, it was mine.

Obviously not the end of the world, but I prefer to keep my commitments when I’m able. The band seems to be doing just fine, as they’ve teamed up with fellow Miami crushers Shroud Eater for a winter tour that will take them to the West Coast and back over the course of February into March. With the dates though, I’ve included the Bandcamp stream of Strange Transmissions from the Neuralnomicon, in case maybe you didn’t get the chance to check it out. Not the usual fare you find around these parts, but badass nonetheless:

SHROUD EATER 2014 WINTER TOUR

Sludge juggernaut to decimate stages in Feb/March 2014

We are proud to announce that Miami’s Shroud Eater will be touring US cities from February 19 to March 10 2014. The band will be decimating stages from Florida to California with experimental death metallers Orbweaver.

Get ready to have your face melted, your brain warped and your senses pulverized!

Wed. Feb. 19 – Orlando, FL – Will’s Pub with: Ad Nauseum, Ex Vietnam
Thurs. Feb. 20 – Tallahassee, FL – The Shark Tank with: Atrocitus, Short Walk
Fri. Feb. 21 – Pensacola, FL – The Handlebar
Sat. Feb. 22 – New Orleans, LA – Siberia with: Lord Dying, Gristnam
Sun. Feb. 23 – Austin, TX – Beerland with: Crawl, Khringe
Tues. Feb. 25 – Riverside, CA – Kim’s Sports Bar
Wed. Feb. 26 – Oakland, CA – The Metro
Thurs. Feb. 27 – San Luis Obispo, CA – Frankie Teardrops with: Hashmouth
Fri. Feb. 28 – Los Angeles, CA – The Complex with: Lightning Swords of Death
Sat. March 1 – Phoenix, AZ – The Yucca Taproom
Sun. March 2 – Santa Fe, NM – TBA
Mon. March 3 – Dallas, TX – Taquerias Pedritos
Tues. March 4 – Little Rock, AR – Vino’s Pizza Pub & Brewery with: Crankbait
Wed. March 5 – Nashville, TN – TBA
Thurs. March 6 – Greensboro, NC -TBA
Fri. March 7 – Charlotte, NC – TBA
Sat. March 8 – Atlanta, GA – TBA
Sun. March 9 – Jacksonville, FL – Burro Bar with: Porter, Atma
Mon. March 10 – St. Petersburg, FL – Fubar Downtown with: Landbridge, Ulcer, Cosm

https://www.facebook.com/events/781613115185577/
https://www.facebook.com/shroudeater
https://www.facebook.com/Orbweaver.Official

Orbweaver, Strange Transmissions from the Neuralnomicon (2013)

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The Obelisk Presents: The Top 20 EPs, Demos and Singles of 2013

Posted in Features on January 2nd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

I’ve been trying to get this one on the page for a couple weeks now — really since last year if you want to go back that far — and I finally just decided to do it. Granted, it’s already 2014, but I’m pretty used to being behind the times, so I hope you’ll indulge me on this one.

The thing is, of course we already did the Top 20 Albums of 2013, but that leaves an awful lot out in terms of quality shorter releases. Demos, singles, EPs, splits — whatever it might be — there’s a lot more to the story of a year in music than who’s putting out what full-length. That might be true now more than ever, with digital releases and artists having the ability to more or less give a song-by-song feed of new material should they so choose. Since this is the first time I’ve done this list, I’ve kept the presentation pretty basic, but there’s a lot to dig into here anyway in terms of the quality of the music and what people were able to accomplish in, in some cases, just one or two tracks.

My basis for judgment here is basically the same as with the full-albums list, and by that I mean how much I listened to something played a huge role, and it’s not just how important I think an EP or a split or a demo was that got it included on this list — though of course that stuff matters as well. Like spelling, repeat listens count. And it goes without saying these are my picks and have nothing to do with the Readers Poll, the results of which are here.

Okay, let’s do this:

The Top 20 Short Releases of 2013

1. The Machine/Sungrazer, Split
2. Dozer, Vultures
3. Mars Red Sky, Be My Guide
4. Black Thai, Seasons of Might
5. Wo Fat/Egypt, Cyclopean Riffs Split 12″
6. Young Hunter, Embers at the Foot of Dark Mountain
7. Shroud Eater, Dead Ends
8. Steak, Corned Beef Colossus
9. Geezer, Gage
10. The Golden Grass, One More Time b/w Tornado 7″
11. Trippy Wicked and the Cosmic Children of the Knight, Underground
12. King Buffalo, Demo
13. Groan, Ride the Snake
14. Crypt Sermon, Demo MMXIII
15. Stubb, Under a Spell b/w Bullets Rain 7″
16. Salem’s Pot, Watch Me Kill You Tape
17. Undersmile/Coma Wall, Wood and Wire Split
18. Second Grave, Antithesis
19. Sinister Haze, Demo
20. Olde Growth, Owl

Honorable mention has to go to the Fatso Jetson/Yawning Man split, C.O.C.‘s Megalodon EP, which was right on but which I didn’t really hear enough to include. The Gates of Slumber‘s Stormcrow as well.

Just a couple notes: In the case of Olde Growth, putting them last was actually more about not being sure when the official release date of Owl was than anything else. I actually listened to that quite a bit, and “Tears of Blood” remains my favorite work of the duo’s to date. In terms of demos, it was a good year for doom debuts, with Crypt Sermon and Sinister Haze both showing some malevolent classicism, and King Buffalo‘s demo grew on me almost immediately upon hearing it and right away made me look forward to whatever might come next from them.

I was a little hesitant to put a split in the number one spot, but The Machine‘s riff for “Awe” alone made it necessary. I’ve kept this disc on my person for almost the entire year and continue to have no regrets in doing so. For Dozer, yeah, it was a collection of older material, but I still enjoyed the crap out of it. Both Mars Red Sky and Black Thai signaled considerable creative growth in four-song EPs, and the Wo Fat and Egypt split more than lived up to its mission. The riff lives in bands like that, and as we get further into stylistic nuance and subgenre development, it’s those groups who are holding on to the Heavy.

Young Hunter are one of the most promising bands I’ve heard in the last three years. Flat out. Killer release. Ditto that in a much different context for Shroud Eater, whose take on heavy only got more sinister and more effective with Dead Ends. Steak emerge as tops among the five British bands — a quarter of the list! — here. Their Corned Beef Colossus also had the best title I heard all year, and though Trippy Wicked, Groan, Stubb, and Undersmile/Coma Wall (the latter earning bonus points for putting out a split with themselves) all thrilled, Steak‘s potential got them that spot. Time for a full-length, guys.

Not to leave out New York — though the geographical alignment is a coincidence — Geezer‘s Gage tapped into a jammier feel that I thought suited the band remarkably well, and The Golden Grass‘ debut single offered one of the most charming irony-free good times I’ve heard in a long while. The Salem’s Pot cassette was one of my most-listened-to tapes this year, last mentioned but not at all least, Second Grave‘s Antithesis probably would’ve clocked in higher if I’d had more time with it, but was definitely one I wanted to put in here anyway.

As I said, a lot of really astounding shorter outings, and worthy of attention in their own right. If I missed anything, I hope you’ll let me know in the comments.

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audiObelisk Transmission 029

Posted in Podcasts on August 27th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Click Here to Download

 

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

Been a while, right? Tell me about it. Although I love, love having The Obelisk Radio streaming 24 hours a day, seven days a week, I’ve been wanting to bring back podcasting for a while now. I always thought it was fun, it just got to be time consuming and to be perfectly honest, the response over time took something of a shit.

Well, the idea here is to start with a clean slate. Anyone who’s listened to audiObelisk podcasts before will notice this one doesn’t have a title. There’s no theme running throughout — though I wanted to keep it focused on new stuff as much as possible — and though others ranged upwards of four hours long, this one clocks in at just under two. I gave myself some pretty specific limits and wanted to start off as basic and foundational as possible. I haven’t done this in a long time, and it seemed only appropriate to treat it like a new beginning.

Something else I’m keeping simple is the intro, so with that said, I hope like hell you download at the link above or stream it on the player and enjoy the selections. Here’s the rundown of what’s included:

First Hour:

Mystery Ship, “Paleodaze” from EP II (2013)
Carousel, “On My Way” from Jeweler’s Daughter (2013)
Ice Dragon, “The Deeper You Go” from Born a Heavy Morning (2013)
Black Mare, “Tearer” from Field of the Host (2013)
Beast in the Field, “Hollow Horn” from The Sacred Above, The Sacred Below (2013)
11 Paranoias, “Reaper’s Ruin” from Superunnatural (2013)
Vàli, “Gjemt Under Grener” from Skoglandskap (2013)
Beelzefuzz, “Lonely Creatures” from Beelzefuzz (2013)
Dozer, “The Blood is Cold” fromVultures (2013)
Toby Wrecker, “Belle” from Sounds of Jura (2013)
Shroud Eater, “Sudden Plague” from Dead Ends (2013)
Luder, “Ask the Sky” from Adelphophagia (2013)
Eggnogg, “The Once-ler” from Louis (2012)

Second Hour:

Colour Haze, “Grace” from She Said (2012)
Borracho, “Know the Score” from Oculus (2013)
The Flying Eyes, “Raise Hell” from Split with Golden Animals (2013)
Demon Lung, “Heathen Child” from The Hundredth Name (2013)
Vista Chino, “As You Wish” from Peace (2013)
Across Tundras, “Pining for the Gravel Roads” from Electric Relics (2013)
Black Pyramid, “Aphelion” from Adversarial (2013)
Church of Misery, “Cranley Gardens (Dennis Andrew Nilsen)” from Thy Kingdom Scum (2013)

Total running time: 1:57:54

Thanks for listening.

Download audiObelisk Transmission 029

 

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Shroud Eater Announce September Southeast Tour

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 27th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Floridian trio sans-connerie Shroud Eater have announced that they’ll take to the road in their native Southeast for a handful of tour dates next month. The run comes in support of the Miami three-piece’s destructive 2013 EP, Dead Ends, which as fate would have it is available this very minute on Primitive Violence and The Path Less Traveled in a variety of physical and digital formats. You may recall I found the tape particularly alluring, though whatever delivery system it arrives by, Dead Ends is worthy of a fervent nerding-out. Mark my words when I say that one of these days I’m going to actually get to see this band play. On a stage. At a place. Where I am.

While I carve that bold declaration in the particleboard of my desk with my Lord of the Rings letter opener, please go ahead and peruse the tour dates below, making changes to your calendar as need be to allow for travel. On Sept. 8, Shroud Eater will join with The Body, Deadbird, Pallbearer, Rwake, The Dirty Streets and Black Oak Arkansas at the Mutants of the Monster fest. You know you always wanted to visit Little Rock in the fall.

Behold:

SHROUD EATER is excited to announce a Southern tour September 5-10, taking them to Little Rock, AR for a performance on the Mutants of the Monster Fest III. The band is touring in support of their highly  acclaimed 2013 EP “DEAD ENDS”, out on The Path Less Traveled Records and Primitive Violence Records and Visual.

SEPTEMBER 2013 TOUR DATES:
Thursday 9/5/13 MIAMI, FL @ Churchills Pub
Friday 9/6/13 ATLANTA, GA @ The Masquerade (Purgatory)
Saturday 9/7/13 NASHVILLE, TN @ The Owl Farm
Sunday 9/8/13 LITTLE ROCK, AK @ Mutants of the Monster Fest III
Monday 9/9/13 BIRMINGHAM, AL @ The High Note
Tuesday 9/10/13 JACKSONVILLE, FL @ Warehouse 818

Shroud Eater, Dead Ends EP (2013)

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Nice Package: Shroud Eater, Dead Ends Cassette on Primitive Violence Records

Posted in Duuude, Tapes!, Visual Evidence on May 9th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

My only issue with the limited edition tape of their new Dead Ends EP that Shroud Eater put out through Primitive Violence Records is that so far I haven’t been able to bring myself to open the damn thing. Oh, I’ve heard the EP itself (review here), so I know it kicks plenty of ass, but looking at the limited packaging — which just seems like it should have a little cutout space near the top so it can hang on a peg in some record and or head shop 20 years ago — I just can’t pull those staples out and open it up.

Primitive Violence is the band’s own imprint — there’s a CD of Dead Ends coming later this month on The Path Less Traveled Records as well — and so I take this tape as kind of the definitive version of the album, what a certain British label seems consistently to refer to as the “diehard edition.” Only 22 were made, they sold out just this past Tuesday (there are more regular tapes left), and here’s what’s included:

No, Pinhead from Hellraiser doesn’t come with it, but everything else in the bottom part of that collage does. It’s one-stop shopping for anyone who’d want to show off their Shroud Eater affiliation, with a sticker, patch and pin, and that rules in and of itself, but there’s also the full-color lyric sheet, transparent red tape and — as you can see in the top right corner of the pic above — also a limited edition figurine made in Peru that actually seems to have been the impetus behind there only being 22 of these made, since the people who made the “Death charms” in turn died and these are the last ones ever. Dead Ends indeed.

All this adds up not only to something really special for collector nerds like me and those converted to the cassette nostalgia cultism, but a complete, every-level experience for what in a lot of band’s minds would probably be a toss-off EP release. Cheers to Shroud Eater for going all out in putting the tape of Dead Ends together (even the regular one looks pretty sweet) and continuing to highlight the appeal of physical media in an age regarded by squares as digital. Awesome.

Shroud Eater, “Tempest” from Dead Ends

Shroud Eater’s merch page

Shroud Eater on Thee Facebooks

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Shroud Eater, Dead Ends EP: Tempestry

Posted in Reviews on March 28th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

One never likes to predict the future when it comes to bands and what the given response to a release will be, but I have little doubt that when the story of Shroud Eater — however that story might turn out to read — is over, their Dead Ends EP will serve as the moment of their arrival. Over the course of these five tracks, four plus an intro, the Miami-based trio showcase not only the professionalism in their songwriting, but a maturity of approach and presentation that their prior full-length debut, 2011’s ThunderNoise (review here), began to hint at. During the time since that album’s release, Shroud Eater Jean Saiz on guitar/vocals/artwork, Janette Valentine on bass/backing vocals and Felipe Torres on drums — have played shows and toured around and beyond the Southeast, and while that’s bound to have an effect on their approach even if only subconsciously, what really separates Dead Ends from ThunderNoise and their self-titled 2009 demo (review here) is the production. That is to say, Shroud Eater‘s songs were already there, and in the emergent gallop here of “Tempest,” the roots found in “We are Beasts” from ThunderNoise seem to have broken through to the surface, but a huge part of what makes that so apparent in listening to Dead Ends (CD on The Path Less Traveled, tape on Primitive Violence) is the still-natural-sounding crispness with which the EP is presented. Whether it’s the doomly tectonics of “Lord of the Sword” or the out-of-nowhere onslaught of “Sudden Plague,” there’s nothing on Dead Ends that isn’t the most professional, mature and satisfying material yet to come from Shroud Eater. And so, like I say: Arrival.

It’s worthwhile to note that the four main tracks of Dead Ends are longer than anything Shroud Eater have done to this point. But for the intro, “Cannibals,” at 2:07, nothing on the EP is under five minutes long, which is a line the band had only previously crossed on ThunderNoise opener “High John the Conqueror.” More importantly, the songs are expansive in their reach and bring together the varied sides of Shroud Eater‘s sound that showed up before on separate tracks, so that once the initial threat of “Cannibals” is laid out — Torres‘ drums driving the point home amid not inconsiderable amp rumble and far-back whispers, blown-out shouts — “Sudden Plague” has room for both a beginning that’s utterly miserable in its doomed lumber and a contrasting second half made propulsive by Saiz‘s riffing. Of immediate distinction is the tone Valentine brings out of her bass; an asset to Shroud Eater‘s sound I’d previously overlooked. Joined by guitar feedback and creeping drums, the bass leads the way into “Sudden Plague”‘s first movement, patiently building a groove for more than a minute before crashing to full breadth. After the lead-in that “Cannibals” provided and the first two minutes of “Sudden Plague,” Dead Ends is nothing if not properly introduced to its audience, but when the second cut takes off, it nonetheless earns the first word of title. As faster riff comes to a head shortly before the two-minute mark, and Saiz‘s vocals emerge, semi-melodic in the mid-period Kylesa tradition, but functioning to serve a consuming swirl that only gets more fervent as the song moves forward.

Read more »

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