Sons of Tonatiuh Hit the Road to Southwest Terror Fest and Beyond

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 11th, 2012 by JJ Koczan

Atlanta-based sludgers Sons of Tonatiuh released their second album, Parade of Sorrow, in June on Hydro-Phonic Records, and to follow up an East Coast run they did over the summer, they’re headed west to take part in the Southwest Terror Fest in Tuscon, Arizona, next week (more info here) and share the stage with a slew of other cool bands before and after. The tour starts tonight with a house show in Tennessee, as all great tours must.

Check out the dates and further info-matics below:


Following a short run of live dates at the close of the Summer, SONS OF TONATIUH will again bring their slow-roasted sludge sorcery to the stage as the Parade Of Sorrow Tour 2012 lives on! Set to commence October 11, 2012 in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, the band will drag their audio ruckus through 15 cities including a stop on the Southwest Terror Fest, a two-day auditory assault organized by Arizona sludge terrorists Godhunter.

SONS OF TONATIUH unearthed their Parade Of Sorrow full-length through Hydro-Phonic Records this Summer. Recorded in Athens, Georgia by Kyle Spence of Harvey Milk, the record continues to harvest praise from fans and critics alike for its raw, angst-stricken method of dirge.

10/11/2012 Frankie Avalon Place (house show) – Murfreesboro, TN w/ Sovereign
10/12/2012 Cusammanos – St. Louis, MO w/ Jack Buck, Everything Went Black, Rowsdower
10/13/2012 The Lightbulb Club – Fayetteville, AR w/ Dirtmother, Dying, Crankbait
10/14/2012 Jackpot Muisc Hall – Lawrence, KS
10/15/2012 Aqualungs – Denver, CO w/ In the Company of Serpents, Western Ritual
10/16/2012 Burt’s Tiki Lounge – Salt Lake City, UT w/ Nevertanezra, Athena Score
10/17/2012 Yayo Taco – Las Vegas, NV
10/18/2012 The Shakedown – San Diego, CA w/ Pigeonwing, Hull
10/19/2012 Blue Cafe Underground – Long Beach, CA w/ Spilth*!%, Hull, Pigeonwing
10/20/2012 Southwest Terror Fest @ The Rock Club – Tucson, AZ w/ Pigeonwing, 16, Hull [INFO]
10/21/2012 The Lovesprout – El Paso, TX w/ Communion of Thieves, Resin Cum
10/22/2012 Headhunter’s – Austin, TX w/ VBT, Bearded Ox, Prison Moon
10/23/2012 Toppers – Watauga, TX w/ Enormicon, Diseased
10/24/2012 Bucaneer – Memphis, TN
10/28/2012 5 Spot – Atlanta, GA w/ Hull, Mortals, Order of the Owl

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UK Special — Is There Life after Dopefight?

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 27th, 2012 by JJ Koczan

Way back on Sept. 8 — which, is like, ancient history in Internet Dog Years (IDY) — one of the UK’s most irreverent sludge acts called it quits. Dopefight announced their disbanding on their Thee Facebooks thusly:

Official Announcement: It is with great sadness that we bring you all this news but we have decided to call it a day. Dopefight is no more. Unfortunately the differences between us as individuals, both personally and musically are now too great for us to continue as the friends we once were, let alone as a functioning band. We got to meet so many great people and did so much cool stuff as a band, we’re very proud of everything that we achieved! Apologies for the abruptness of this, sadly there will be no last show!

We’d like to thank every last one of you that has supported us in anyway, come to our shows, bought our records, let us crash on your floor etc. We are very grateful; we love you all because without you we could not have created so many amazing memories! It’s a shame that it has ended this way but time and people have to move on. All remaining merch will still be available to purchase, once it’s gone though it really is gone and our new split vinyls with Lex Rhino and The Fucking Wrath will still be released, we’ll keep you informed on the release dates. But don’t fear, new music projects are already on the way and there will be plenty of new music to come, we will keep you all informed, so please keep checking the page for all future announcements. Thank you and goodnight! RIP.

Don’t get me wrong, I was already really, really glad to have seen Dopefight at this year’s Desertfest in London (you’ll pardon me for recycling the photo above), but this changes everything. Aside from it being a massive shitter the trio couldn’t keep it together and continue to destroy both their own and the brain cells of everyone in their path, their departure leaves one to wonder just what’s next?

The statement above, though abrupt in its “sorry but we’re fucking done”-ness, does leave the door open. Dopefight‘s splits with The Fucking Wrath and Lex Rhino will be released, and though the band has put all of their merch on sale through their BigCartel store to get rid of it, the end of the statement still talks about other projects being underway, so there’s hope yet for more to come from these dudes — if not in Dopefight form.

Best wishes to the members of Dopefight for their future projects and thanks for kicking ass while it was feasible for you to do so. Good band, taken too soon.

Here’s a victory lap through “Stonk,” for old times’ sake:

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Morbid Wizard, Necrosis of the Eyeball: Here’s Mud in Yer Eye

Posted in Reviews on September 20th, 2012 by JJ Koczan

Ohioan anti-supergroup Morbid Wizard return with an EP to back up the vicious onslaught they brought with their first album. Even the name of the release, Necrosis of the Eyeball, should be some hint as to the sonic extremity on tap, and though the four-piece (down a guitarist in the missing Bahb Branca) have solidified their approach somewhat over the course of the last year since they issued their 2011 Lord of the Rats debut (review here), there’s still a very real, very palpable threat of violence in what they do. At any moment, they might put their instruments down and cut you. No shit. You might not think so, but that works to the favor of the five-track, half-hour-long Necrosis of the Eyeball, the guitar of Scott Stearns keeping consistent nastiness throughout varied pace while drummer Corey Bing and bassist Mike Duncan underscore already low-end psychopathy with vomitous churn. Recorded separately, vocalist Jesse Kling’s screams are no less caustic than they were last time around or on his work with The Disease Concept on their own Liquor Bottles and Broken Steel EP (review here), lyrics vaguely discernible in the barrage of abrasive tonality. Bing also took part in The Disease Concept, and that’s only the most basic of connections that draws these players together. Over time in acts like Fistula, Rue, Sollubi, Ultralord, King Travolta and Son of Jor-El, they’ve helped typify their own brand of Ohio sludge, but Morbid Wizard might be the most cohesive showing they’ve had of that style, and likewise, Necrosis of the Eyeball brings these elements together with a fluidity and creativity that doesn’t necessarily work against the loose, dangerous atmosphere – only more vivid for the roughness of production – but instead giving an all-too-real sense of conscious choice. The difference between being hit with a hammer in broad daylight and being stalked and subsequently stabbed in the dark, let’s say. The results may be roughly the same bloody mess, but how you got there is the whole story.

Like its predecessor, Necrosis of the Eyeball arrives in a DVD-style case with artwork from Stearns, and though that and the short span between releases – not to mention members’ participation in other projects – might lead one to think there hasn’t been much development between the two, that’s just not the case. The recordings may sound roughly similar and the ethic may be along the same lines, but the execution has grown some, and so as the EP gets started with its slowest, perhaps meanest track, “Grave Chyld,” and Stearns tears through shredding leads and painfully slow riffing, there persists a sense of songwriting at work. A few of these tracks are – seems almost impossible to say it, and yet – catchy. Not so much the 9:29 “Grave Chyld” (the longest track on the release; points for the opener), which begins with a sample invoking Lucifer and is working more on bludgeon and killer soloing than on the memorability of its hook, the three songs that ensue – “Necrosis of the Eyeball,” “Chemical Fog” and the Cinderella cover “Night Songs” – each have a strong chorus, however caked in filth and fucked up that chorus might be. After the plodding, doomed mournfulness in the ending of “Grave Chyld,” the faster push of the title-track is both a surprise and seemingly a respite, though ultimately Morbid Wizard offer no quarter. Kling, who handles the samples, uses another at the beginning of “Necrosis of the Eyeball,” and when the riff is introduced, its metallic progression (punctuated by tom thuds from Bing), if played somewhat faster, wouldn’t be out of place on any number of death metal records, and that might very well be the intent, though when they break and Duncan’s low end rumble leads them to a chugging, lurching repetitive section, it’s all sludge. Extreme sludge, but sludge all the same. More excellent guitar solos persist through the slowdown, and though I was left wondering if they’d bring the pace back up to finish, they just sort of let the song fall apart instead. I guess even working with structures has its limits.

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audiObelisk: Yellowtooth Premiere “Burning Daylight” from Disgust Debut Full-Length

Posted in audiObelisk on September 11th, 2012 by JJ Koczan

Veterans of a diverse range of metal acts, from the deathly Sea of Tranquillity to the more thrashing Chronic Disorder, the Michigan City, Indiana, trio Yellowtooth bring that same sense of extremity to the sludge of their full-length Orchestrated Misery Recordings debut, Disgust. The album has a distinctly ’90s-style death metal production — the guitar of Hank McGinnis is crunchy more than fuzz-laden as one might expect, and his vocals are barked out like earliest Morbid Angel or maybe even Max Cavalera when Sepultura were a death metal band.

The groove, however, is all sludge, as a song like the lurching “Decaying from Within” will attest. Yellowtooth‘s rhythm section of bassist/backing vocalist Peter Clemens and drummer Ed Kribs strike an excellent balance between proffering extreme abrasion and highlighting riff-led nod-fodder. All through the album, which is short at 43 minutes, they bridge the gap between Down‘s Southern-minded brand of heavy and the metal that was ultra-aggressive at a time long before it was cool, making a cut like “Burning Daylight” skillfully play one side off the other while sounding natural and brutal in kind, Clemens backing McGinnis‘ gruff approach with a spoken part that taken right out of mournful doom.

Being a fan of classic death metal and particularly of seeing it blended with different variations of underground heavy, Yellowtooth‘s Disgust struck a particular chord and I thought I’d share for anyone else who might offer due appreciation. Disgust sees its official release today, and you’ll find “Burning Daylight” available for streaming on the player below. Please enjoy:

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

Yellowtooth‘s Disgust is out now via Orchestrated Misery. More info is available at the label’s webstore or the band’s Thee Facebooks page.

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Total Coverage: Stoner Hands of Doom XII (Night Two)

Posted in Features on August 31st, 2012 by JJ Koczan

I’m not sure how long my laptop battery is going to last, or what I’m going to do when it dies, but the idea for tonight is to write as much as I can while I’m actually at the El ‘n’ Gee in New London for the second night of Stoner Hands of Doom XII. Tomorrow starts earlier, so I don’t know when else I’ll have time to write.

In other words, I basically said “Fuck it, I’ll do it live.”

What you see in the photo above is the view from the couch I’m sitting on in the corner of the bar area. There are no plugs in the walls save for one that’s otherwise occupied. Tonight’s lineup is seven bands, which is one more than yesterday. Connecticut natives When the Deadbolt Breaks are setting up their gear behind me on the stage, and they’ll be followed in turn by Wizard Eye from Philadelphia, Long Island’s own John Wilkes Booth, Massachusetts’ Faces of Bayon, CT’s Lord Fowl, Maryland doomers Revelation. Rhode Island upstarts Pilgrim will close out the night. They’re here already wandering around, as are the Wizard Eye dudes.

Gonna be a good time no matter what else goes down, I’ve got no doubt. It’s also fest organizer Rob Levey‘s birthday tonight, so to Rob, happy birthday from the couch.

Night two of SHoD XII gets underway in about an hour, give or take. I’ll hopefully have updates as we go along, added to this post.

When the Deadbolt Breaks

UPDATE 7:43PM: As ever, Connecticut natives When the Deadbolt Breaks dipped their audience in a distortion caked coating of the truly deranged. They’ve gotten a new bassist since I last saw them, guitarist/vocalist Aaron Lewis perpetually chasing a rhythm section that can keep pace with him, both in tempo and tone. And by “keep pace,” I mean play slow as fuck. Reportedly, the second platter of Deadbolt‘s forthcoming 2LP release is one 60-minute-long song. That’s probably a solid format for the band to work in, as Lewis‘ songs have always tended to wander into these sort of pits of ambient quicksand. When he spaces out thusly, the atmospherics are almost always hypnotic, such as 10 minutes ago, when John Wilkes Booth vocalist Kerry Merkle had to rouse me back to conscious before handing me a couple stickers. The crux of Deadbolt‘s approach though is playing those sections off the droning doom that follows and metering them with sections of mournful, Danzig-style clean singing. There still isn’t a subgenre designation for what they do, but maybe sooner or later someone will come up with something. In any case, with all the lights turned low and a projector going, they were a suitably menacing start to tonight’s diverse roster of acts.

Wizard Eye

UPDATE 8:41PM: Guitarist/vocalist Erik from Philly trio Wizard Eye looked the part of the wizard manning his theremin, his dreadlocks dragging on the floor of the stage behind him, impossibly long. Long like you think of roads as being long. The three-piece blended Weedeater sludge with Fu Manchu stonerisms, had some Sabbath in there of course, but did not short either on aggression. Erik does guest leads on the new Clamfight CD and he showed off a bit of that prowess as well, in between bursts of dual-vocals with bassist Dave while Scott slammed away behind. They’ve got a CD for sale that I’ll pick up before the night is through, I’ve no doubt. This despite the incense on the stage behind Erik, which has now made the front of the El ‘n’ Gee smell like a teenager’s bedroom. Part of the package, I guess, and if it’s to be a total sensory experience, I suppose I shouldn’t complain. They were — what’s the word again? — heavy. Some familiar elements, but put to good use, and the theremin went a long way in adding to the overall wash of noise. Stone and tone: It’s not exactly the new math when it comes to this kind of thing, but Wizard Eye did well with it. The balance of the vocal mics was a little off coming through the house, but I get the sense in a smaller room, they’d be absolutely crushing. Philly’s Kung Fu Necktie, perhaps, or some basement where the soundwaves have no place to go and no choice but to cleave your skull.

John Wilkes Booth

UPDATE 9:33PM: I’ve known these dudes for years. Played shows with them, seen them come into their own as a band. It’d been a while though, and in the interim, John Wilkes Booth — as bands will do — wrote a shitload of new material. Also, apparently at some point Kerry Merkle‘s megaphone had babies and grew an entire family of effects pedals for the vocalist. Well done, proud papa. It’s been over three years since they released their Sic Semper Tyrannis full-length (review here), so maybe they’re due for a new record as well. In any case, their crunching ’90s riffs — not quite stoner, not quite noise, but definitely heavy and skirting the line between the two — did not fail to satisfy, and Merkle‘s effects added complexity to what, admittedly, I used to enjoy the rawness of, without necessarily distracting from what bassist Harry, drummer Christian and subdued guitarist Jason were doing. Solid heavy rock band, as ever, and it’ll be interesting to hear how the vocal extras factor into a new recording. Actually, I guess I’d just like to hear a new recording, however the pedals may or may not play into it. These guys pretty obviously just do it because they love to do it, and that’s always welcome on any stage I happen to be in front of.

Faces of Bayon

UPDATE 10:25PM: If the next wave of stuff people decide to give a shit about was to be doom riffing mixed with old school death metal, I’d be happy to watch Massachusetts’ own Faces of Bayon lead the charge. Before the set even started, the charm was evident, as guitarist/vocalist Matt Smith asked the crowd in a low growl if they liked stoner doom. Later, after his amp cut out in the middle of one of the tracks from their Heart of the Fire LP — which, pros to the last, bassist Ron Miles and drummer Mike Brown kept going — Smith apologized to the crowd with a simple, “Sorry,” before resuming his tale of the fall of Lucifer in a low, throaty whisper. No substitute for that kind of charm, and to go with it, Faces of Bayon were crushingly heavy, Miles playing a six-string in the deathly tradition. I don’t think the winds of trend will ever blow in their favor, but I also don’t think they give a shit. They closed with a new song from an upcoming album which Smith said would be recorded this fall, and I guess someone needs to tell these dudes Labor Day’s on Monday so they can get on it. That last album got a huge response, so I’ll look forward to seeing how the next one comes out. If their closer was anything to go by, you can bet on slow, heavy and evil, with more than just a dash of stoner.

Lord Fowl

UPDATE 11:11PM: Double kudos to Connecticut’s Lord Fowl for not only rocking the house, but for rocking the house after the ultra-doom bestowed upon it by Faces of Bayon. I had wondered how the transition would go from Faces of Bayon‘s downer moodiness and morose heavy to Lord Fowl‘s upbeat arena-ready hooks, but the latter more than pulled it off. Their record, being the last one I reviewed before leaving to come up here on Thursday, was still pretty fresh in my head, but even those who didn’t know the songs were hooked by the time the four-piece were through album and set opener “Moon Queen” and its follow-up “Touch that Groove.” Another transition straight off the Moon Queen album that worked really well was “Streets of Evermore” into “Dirty Driving,” guitarist/vocalists Vechel Jaynes and Mike Pellegrino trading off lead spots in the process. I don’t know how much of the audience knew the songs going into the set, but Lord Fowl’s brand of rock is basically undeniable if you’ve ever had a ’70s chorus stuck in your head. They were unafraid to smile on stage, and everywhere they went, they made sure the crowd came with them. It was a lot of fun, and I still think there’s a lot more potential to them even than they showed tonight, though they showed plenty.


UPDATE 12:17AM: Of the handful of times I’ve seen Maryland doom stalwarts Revelation, this was easily the best. If you want to think of this weekend as one huge tone-off, then John Brenner and Bert Hall are the dudes who sneak in just at the last minute totally unsuspecting and walk away with the prize. They didn’t play anything new — as Brenner said on stage, they don’t know the songs — but their set was tighter and more energetic than I’ve ever seen from them. They weren’t jumping around the stage by any means, not thrashing about, but they delivered all the same. Brenner’s Laney sounded gorgeous, Hall played a bass that had an axe built into the body — one assumes it’s in case he has to chop wood in the middle of the set — and drummer Steve Branagan held down both quiet and loud with ease. Like several of the acts tonight — When the Deadbolt BreaksJohn Wilkes Booth, Faces of Bayon — they’ve got new material in the works (as a recent audio stream will attest), but as the penultimate band of the night, they did well bridging a sizable gap in modus between Lord Fowl and Pilgrim still to come. The room has mostly cleared out and it’s getting late, but the people still here are glad to be, alternating between partying outside in the fenced patio area of the El ‘n’ Gee and just getting drunk(er) at the bar. Either way.


UPDATE 1:14AM: That picture above of Pilgrim was taken before the show started. Much to the credit of the hot-as-hell Rhode Island trio, they were here the whole show, and didn’t leave so far as I know as so many who played did. Maybe they went and got a bite to eat or something like that — to be fair, I wasn’t keeping tabs on them all night. Before their set started, they asked specifically to play in the dark, and the request was granted, so I was doubly glad to have snapped a few shots outside of them on the couch outside on the sidewalk. They’re the first band to play this fest that everyone in the place went right to the front of the stage to see. I stood back, and I think doing so helped me to see what it is about them that has the hype rolling so hard. To share: They’re young, and they’re frighteningly cohesive. They play off familiar elements — slow riffs, emotional anguish — but do so with strong performances and an air of sincerity. If you wanted to paint a picture of an exciting young act in the genre, that picture would probably look a lot like Pilgrim, and whatever excitement they have around them, they do well to justify it with the promise they show both on stage and in their recorded work. They were a great cap for the night and had a tremendous response. No complaints from my end. The only x-factor is if they can keep it together, but pending that, they’re most definitely on the right track. If nothing else, they’ve proven they’re a band worth pulling for.

UPDATE 2:25AM: Blue moon indeed. It’s full and up there and hard to argue with, and I’m down by the shoreline of the Long Island Sound outside with the laptop and I’m tired but things have been far worse. The trip back from New London to here was uneventful, at least in comparison to the evening preceding. Tomorrow I’m going to have to figure out a way to see every band play and also provide myself with some basic kind of nutrition. There’s a grease truck in the public parking lot across the street from the El ‘n’ Gee. The last two nights in a row I’ve been tempted to get a cheeseburger for the ride and both times I’ve chickened out and just gotten a bottle of water. Maybe tomorrow will be my day.

Akris are slated to open the gig at noon. I doubt they’ll actually start on time, but that’s what’s slated to go down, so I’m going to try to be there before then. I’ll crash out in a couple minutes, but not just yet.

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On the Radar: Wolfshead

Posted in On the Radar on August 2nd, 2012 by JJ Koczan

“I used to want to be a man of substance/Instead, I’m just a man of substances.” — Wolfshead

That’s a good line, and it arrives in due form on the track “The Garden” from UK doom/sludge duo Wolfshead‘s self-titled debut EP. The twosome of drummer/bassist/vocalist Leigh McSharry and guitarist/vocalist Mart Anthony bill the quickie four-tracker as “garage doom,” and though one hardly gets a sense of what that means from “The Garden,” which lurches forth at a marked crawl and is topped by deathly growls, but “Pissin’ Blood,” which follows, or opener “Warbringer,” which precedes, give some better indication, relying as they do on faster pacing and a more rock-based groove.

To that end, “Warbringer”‘s an absolute toe-tapper, and the backing gang vocals only add to its upbeat throb. The mix on the EP is raw, but clear and professional nonetheless, and if the shifts between the first three tracks of Wolfshead‘s Wolfshead set you up to think closer “Death Priest” is going to be another switch to grime-covered doom — that would make the release four songs: rock, doom, rock, doom — you’re only half right. McSharry and Anthony cut the pace, but instead of death-dooming out, they indulge a kind of heavy ’90s-style sub-psych, heavier guitar kicking in with the chorus following a more open-sounding verse.

As they manage to cover more stylistic ground over the space of four songs/16 minutes than most bands do in their career, I feel relatively comfortable calling Wolfshead a good beginning for the band. The EP came out in March, but I wanted to post the tracks in case anyone else might have missed them at the time. Here they are via the Wolfshead Bandcamp page:

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